BY VINCE NONATO and ASHZEL HACHERO
SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said four convicted Chinese “drug lords” were among inmates released early by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on good behavior.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said the four are in its custody and detained at the BI “warden’s facility” in Bicutan, Taguig City but will be deported soon.
A BuCor document showed at least 1,900 inmates convicted for heinous crimes like rape and murder have been released from prisons since 2014 under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) provided for under Republic Act 10592 enacted in 2013.
Overall, 22,049 inmates were granted GCTA and allowed to walk free for good behavior since 2014.
Lacson, in an interview with reporters, said he obtained a list of released convicts as of August 16, as the Senate gears up for its inquiry into the grant of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) that reduce the period of imprisonment.
The list included Chan Chit Yue, Kin San Ho, Ching Che, and Wu Hing Sum, who were housed in the New Bilibid Prison’s maximum security compound and released last June.
“At least four of those released [as of] August 16 are Chinese drug lords. They were released to the custody of the [Bureau of Immigration] for possible deportation,” Lacson said.
He said the drug offenders were found entitled to the incentive. “That was the information coming out of the NBP,” he said.
Melvin Mabulac, deputy chief of the BI’s public information office, said a summary deportation order for the four Chinese “was signed and approved by the Board of Commissioners last August 23, 2019 and implementation of the same will be as soon as possible as soon as relevant documents are complied with such as clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation.”
He also said the deportation is part of the BI’s ministerial function once foreigners complete service of their sentence in Philippine prison.
Lacson said his office has also tried to secure a copy of a supposed August 20 release order, which the children of convicted rapist and murderer, former Calauan, Laguna, Mayor Antonio Sanchez, claimed would pave the way for his early release.
Assuming the Sanchez family was correct, Lacson said, “Apparently, nawawala ang kopya (The copy is missing).”
Eusebio Santos, BuCor PIO head, said Sanchez’ was in the list generated by the bureau after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the application of RA 10592 is retroactive.
He clarified it does not mean that the former mayor and those included in the list will be released. He also denied the claims of Sanchez’ family that he was included in a release order of the BuCor.
The controversy surrounding the application of the good conduct time allowance in Sanchez’ case provoked public outrage and forced the Department of Justice to suspend the processing of inmates eligible for early release.
Sanchez is serving a 40-year prison term for the 1993 rape-slay of UPLB student Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her companion Allan Gomez. He was detained in 1995.
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said Sanchez committed numerous violations of prison rules, which should have been a ground for his “non-entitlement” to the incentive under Chapter 5, Sec. 3 of the BuCor Uniform Manual on Time Allowances.
Drilon’s opposition to Sanchez’ early release hinged mostly on the latter’s conduct while serving his 40-year sentence, such as the two instances in 2006 and 2010 in which he was caught in possession of illegal drugs.
Drilon, who was justice secretary when Sanchez was convicted, also said the former mayor had lavish accommodations in his shelter in the New Bilibid Prisons, as revealed by a 2015 raid.
He noted Sanchez, based on photos and videos taken on August 22, was wearing gray slacks and leather shoes, in violation of the prison dress code.
The controversy prompted the Senate and the House of Representatives to look into how prison authorities determine eligibility for the incentive under Republic Act No. 10592, which was enacted in 2013.
The BuCor document, which was provided by a source, showed 1,914 inmates convicted of heinous crimes were able to walk free due to the GCTA.
This include 62 inmates released in 2014, 105 in 2015, 212 in 2016, 335 in 207 and 384 in 2018.
Since January this year, 816 more inmates were granted GCTA.
Based on the document, of the 1,914 granted the GCTA, 797 committed murder while 757 were convicted for rape.
Another 274 were convicted for robbery with violence or intimidation, 48 for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, 29 for parricide, five for kidnapping with illegal detention, and three for destructive arson.
Reached for comment on why those convicted of heinous crimes were released for good behavior, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, “We have to study and discuss that issue very carefully and thoroughly.”
“Not prudent to answer an important question like that without much thought,” he added.
Earlier, Guevarra said those convicted of heinous crimes will most likely not be included in the coverage of the GCTA.
This also came as the justice and interior departments yesterday created a joint committee to review the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10592, including the re-computation of the time allowances granted to inmates.
The committee has 10 working days to submit its report to Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.