JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said he has given the Bureau of Correction until this March to complete the processing of the documents of 400- plus convicts who were released due to the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance but later surrendered on orders of President Duterte.
Guevarra said the BuCor leadership requested for additional time to process the documents, citing the lack of manpower of the bureau.
“They told me they don’t want to make any mistake again,” Guevarra said at the Kapihan sa Manila forum where he served as the guest.
He said the returnees, or persons deprived of liberty (PDL), are asking the bureau for certification as proof that they are free to go and return to their respective communities but the BuCor personnel has to sift through records to make sure they are indeed qualified for release.
“So I said to them we will give you that grace period that you are requesting but on one condition that while you are processing their papers, make sure that they are being properly fed and accommodated,” he said.
He added that he also told BuCor Director General Gerard Bantag to ensure the safety of the PDLs.
Last year, the BuCor, under then director general Nicanor Faeldon, was engulfed in controversy after information surfaced showing that former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez might be released early from the National Bilibid Prison where he is serving seven life terms due to the GCTA. Sanchez and seven of his cohorts were convicted in 1995 for the rape-slay of UPLB student Eileen Sarmenta and murder of her friend, Alan Gomez.
An ensuing Senate investigation also led to the discovery of several anomalies inside the national penitentiary. The furor led to the relief of Faeldon and the appointment of Bantag.
More than 2, 000 released inmates surrendered to authorities after reports that there was a mistake in the GCTA computation and that they were prematurely released.