MANILA — The Philippine National Police has deployed tracker teams to locate nearly 2,000 heinous crimes convicts who were freed under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
This came after President Rodrigo Duterte gave these prisoners 15 days to surrender, shortly after firing Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon.
“Following the orders of the President, all police units nationwide have been directed by PNP Chief, Police General Oscar D. Albayalde to immediately receive and account for about 1,700 national prisoners released through GCTA who will heed the order of the President, and opt to surrender within the given 15-day grace period,” PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday night.
“Tracker teams will now be deployed to locate these convicts, who will be treated as fugitives if they choose not to surrender. As fugitives from justice, these convicts can be subjected to warrantless arrest,” he added.
Banac said to ensure inter-agency coordination and secure the exact list and addresses of these convicts, the PNP will designate a liaison officer with the Department of Justice and Bureau of Corrections.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) stressed that the re-arrest of these convicts does not equate to double jeopardy.
“The order to re-arrest is consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, particularly the decision of the Supreme Court in People v Tan where it was held that the “prisoner’s re-arrest would not place him twice in jeopardy because his re-incarceration is merely a continuation of the penalty that he had not completely served due to the erroneous act of the warden; it is not a new or subsequent conviction. Neither would his re-arrest deprive him of liberty without due process of law, because he was not yet entitled to liberty at the time he was released,” Interior Undersecretary and spokesperson, Jonathan Malaya said in a message to reporters.
Duterte ordered other BuCor officials and the committee responsible for allowing the release of the 1,700 heinous crimes convicts to report to him and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Although he will not order their suspension, Duterte said he will have them investigated under the Office of the Ombudsman.
“In the meantime, I will not suspend them but they will be investigated. Diretso na ito sa (But they will go straight to the) Ombudsman. This is a prima facie case. There’s an admission that they were remiss in their duties,” Duterte said.
Duterte also encouraged the 1,700 heinous crimes convicts to surrender to the nearest police or military stations within 15 days.
“Lahat nakulong at na-release sa batas na ito (All those jailed and released under this law), 1,900 of you, you surrender and have yourself registered with the BuCor,” Duterte said.
“I will give you 15 days liberty provided you make yourself available anytime that you will be called for investigation to have a recomputation or if there’s an investigation of corruption that you cooperate fully,” he added
He said all heinous crime convicts who have been released under the GCTA law who will refuse to surrender will be treated as fugitives.
“If you do not, then beginning at this hour, you are a fugitive from justice. And you will be treated as a criminal who is evading the law and well you know things can go wrong. If I were you, mag-surrender na kayo to the nearest police or military detachment wherever you are now,” he added.
Duterte said the released inmates with heinous crimes will be automatically barred from leaving the country. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan / PNA – northboundasia.com