De Lima hopes new GCTA rules just a temporary solution

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed hope that the revised rules of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law was meant as an immediate yet temporary solution to prevent further abuses and corruption inside the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

De Lima, however, pointed out that the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the GCTA Law, which she regards as ultra vires, has removed equal opportunity for all Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) to atone for their sins and reintegrate back into the community.

“I hope in my heart that the new [IRR] is meant to be a temporary solution to prevent irreversible damage caused by the ‘GCTA-for-sale’ fiasco that hounded this administration,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 604.

“It is very unfortunate that corruption and abuse of the law has deprived truly reformed PDLs of the opportunity to earn time allowances based on good conduct. Yet again, corrupt officials have prejudiced the rights of the powerless,” she added.

Amid outrage over misuse of GCTA to unqualified or undeserving convicted inmates, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) released the revised IRR of the Expanded GCTA Law.

The new IRR now categorically excludes all convicts of heinous crime, regardless of their sustained good behavior in prison, from availing of GCTA and other time allowances.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, explained that she believes that the government should not disregard the original intent of the GCTA Law towards genuine prison reform in the country.

“The law granting [GCTA] is part of the reformatory aspect of the criminal justice system. It provides hope to our countrymen who, for some reason or circumstances borne by the sinfulness of the mortal nature, have been in conflict of the law,” she said.

“It gives them the opportunity to change their ways, brushing aside any issue of innocence on the part of certain PDLs who may have been falsely charged or convicted. Hope and change is not confined to those imprisoned for lesser crimes. It should be made available to everyone,” she added.

The lady Senator from Bicol noted that the grant of time allowances to truly reformed PDLs charged with heinous crimes, within the standards and processes laid down by the law and the IRR, does not operate to commit injustice against their victims.

“The real injustice is the undue and improper grant of time allowance to those who do not deserve them and the failure of our system to hold the corrupt officials involved responsible,” she said.

De Lima, a former secretary, earlier urged the Duterte administration to stop using her as a convenient scapegoat in the mess created by the abuses in granting GCTA to unqualified or undeserving convicted inmates by the President’s minions.

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