Granting GCTA to heinous crime convicts existent before President Duterte: Panelo

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“As revealed during the discussions during the congressional hearing yesterday, it has been the practice of the Bureau of Corrections, during the previous administration, to release persons deprived of liberty from imprisonment due to good conduct, regardless of whether they were serving their sentences for a conviction of a heinous crime or not,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

“The basis for this practice was the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law, crafted and issued jointly by former Secretary of Justice and now detained Leila De Lima and former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Manuel Roxas II, in 2014, which included those convicted of heinous crimes as qualified to avail the benefits of RA No. 10592,” Panelo added.

He noted that the practice of granting GCTA to those convicted of heinous crimes has also been existent years before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed his presidential seat.

“Meanwhile, the sudden increase in number of those purported to be eligible to avail of the benefits of GCTA was due to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, a separate and independent branch of the government, which held that RA No. 10592 should be applied retroactively,” Panelo explained.

Panelo added that “as regards the officials in the Bureau of Corrections, the President will maintain the status quo until the congressional hearings are concluded. He will be monitoring the conduct of the legislative investigation and give appropriate consideration to the findings of Congress.”

“We stress that the granting of GCTA is not a form of executive clemency, the awarding of which belongs to the Office of the President. The buck in this case stops with the Bureau of Corrections,” Panelo said.

“The President will not tolerate any form of injustice being committed under his watch and it is for this reason that he will ensure that the practice initiated by the past administration on the granting of GCTA will no longer continue,” he added.