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Martires calls on De Lima, Roxas to explain GCTA revisions

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by Allan Yves Briones

The controversy enveloping the Bureau of Corrections (BOC) rumbles on Tuesday following a letter sent by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In the document, Ombudsman Samuel Martires called on former Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Leila De Lima to explain revisions made to the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

“In this regard, this Office requests the submission, within three days from receipt hereof, of a written explanation/clarification on why the foregoing provision in the IRR does not contain the same disqualifications as enumerated in the last paragraph of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 1 of R.A. 10592,” Martires wrote.

The Ombudsman was referring to the provision providing that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the law’s coverage.

Instead, some 2,000 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes were already granted early release through GCTA.

Allegedly during their terms, former Department of Justice Secretary De Lima, with Roxas, revised the contents of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations loosening the list of disqualified individuals to include the latter.

Just Monday, the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of 27 BuCor officials, less than a week after he announced an “exhaustive” investigation on the agency following allegations of money-for-early-release.

President Rodrigo Duterte has even removed BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon from his post when the controversy broke, and ordered the surrender of convicts previously released under the GCTA.

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