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Bilibid inmates challenge revised rules of GCTA law before SC

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New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare as invalid several provisions of the and regulations (IRR) of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law including the exclusion of recidivists,, habitual delinquents, escapees and heinous crimes convicts from its benefits.

In their petition, their lawyers explained “it becomes clear that the deprivation of application of the greater GCTA and consequent prolongation of imprisonment of herein petitioners and those similarly situated constitute violation of their substantive rights.”

“Absent any showing that they are not eligible for GCTA, they have to be made beneficiaries of the same, regardless of the nature of the crime they were convicted of,” read the petition.

“They must be accordingly released by the DOJ (Department of Justice) and BUCOR (Bureau of Corrections) regardless of whether the same will cause public outrage,” it added.

The petitioners are Bilibid inmates Russel Fuensalida, Toshing Yiu, Benjamin Galvez, Cerilo Obnimaga, Urbano Mison, Roland Gamba, Pablo Panaga, and Rommel Deang.

It also named as respondents Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, BUCOR Director General Gerald Bantag, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Chief Allan Iral.

The petition questioned the revised IRR of Republic Act 10592, the law that was passed in 2013 and amended provisions of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) to grant more GCTAs to inmates to allow their much earlier release.

The DOJ and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) made the revised IRR to stress that recidivists,, habitual delinquents, escapees and heinous crimes convicts are excluded from benefiting from RA 10592.

“With the release of the Revised IRR whereby it explicitly indicated that recidivist, habitual delinquents, escapees and PDL ‘convicted of heinous crimes shall not be entitled to ‘any’ GCTA during service of sentence, the Revised IRR clearly went beyond the provisions of R.A. No. 10592 by expanding the exclusion from crediting the preventive imprisonment to GCTA,” the petition stated.

With this, the petitioners also asked the SC, among others, to stop the BUCOR and BJMP from “retroactively applying the exclusions” in the revised IRR “insofar as the provisions are disadvantageous to any prisoners.”

“The retroactive application of the greater GCTA cannot be stopped by a mere IRR,” the petition pointed out.

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