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SC strikes down De Lima-Roxas rules vs. early prisoner release

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The Supreme Court (SC) has declared as invalid a rule implemented in 2014 by then cabinet secretaries Leila De Lima and Mar Roxas which prevented inmates from getting early release from prison.

The high tribunal has issued a decision which ruled to invalidate Section 4, Rule of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10592, an act implementing amendments of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The SC ruled in favor of the petitions filed by groups of petitioners which include inmates of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Rene Saguisag Sr., and the group of William Montinola.

The IRR was jointly issued in 2014 by Senator De Lima, who justice secretary at time, and then interior secretary Roxas.

However, Billibid inmates complained they would have benefitted from an earlier release had their previous credits of good behaviour been covered by the IRR’s good conduct time allowance (GCTA).

They pointed out RA 10592 is a penal law and its rules should apply retroactively.

“The prospective application of the beneficial provisions of R.A. No. 10592 actually works to the disadvantage of petitioners and those who are similarly situated,” read the SC decision.

“It precludes the decrease in the penalty attached to their respective crimes and lengthens their prison stay; thus, making more onerous the punishment for the crimes committed,” it added.

“Depriving them of time off to which they are justly entitled as a practical matter results in extending their sentence and increasing their punishment. Evidently, this transgresses the clear mandate of Article 22 of the RPC,” it stressed.

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