De Lima maintains original IRR consistent with GCTA Law

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has maintained that the original Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law are consistent with the law itself and in keeping with the principle of restorative justice.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that the original IRR of the GCTA Law did not indicate the exclusion of heinous crimes convicts because the law itself did not disqualify them from earning time allowances based on good conduct to begin with.

“There is no irregularity or incorrectness in the original IRR of the GCTA Law, which was issued as an institutional output of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), during the Aquino administration,” she said.

“The IRR is consistent with the law. Hindi mali ang batas na ang orihinal na layunin ay magpatupad ng tunay na repormang correctional, at lalong hindi mali ang IRR nito. Ang mali ay kung paano ipinatupad at inabuso ng administrasyong ito ang batas,” she added.

Amid outrage over misuse of GCTA to unqualified or undeserving convicted inmates, the DOJ and DILG released the revised IRR of the Expanded GCTA Law which now categorically excludes all convicts of heinous crime from availing of GCTA and other time allowances which, according to De Lima, renders the new IRR ultra vires.

To cover up for the corruption within the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) which resulted to questionable releases of some undeserving Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs), Mr. Duterte and his minions pin the blame to De Lima who, together with former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas issued the original IRR.

Diyan naman magaling sila Mr. Duterte, ang maghanap ng sisisihin kapag pumalpak sila at nabunyag ang mga kalokohan nila,” said De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.

Former Senator (now Sorsogon Governor) Francis Escudero, a co-author and main sponsor of the GCTA Law in the Senate, which was passed in the 15thCongress, reportedly claimed that he found it unfair that the current administration is blaming De Lima over the GCTA mess because “it was not only her that issued the IRR” and that “it was [issued] in conjunction with other stakeholders at that time.”

Escudero maintained that the proponents of the GCTA did not exclude heinous crimes convicts from those eligible to benefit from the law to encourage them to do well in prison and have something to “look forward [to] beyond their prison terms.”

“Once you are convicted, very much like the Revised Penal Code, which did not distinguish between reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment convicts and ordinary convicts, we also did not change that,” Escudero said.

The lady Senator from Bicol urged the present administration to run after the implementors of the GCTA Law and file appropriate criminal and administrative charges against them to eradicate corruption in BuCor and push for genuine prison reform.

“I hope the administration will stop looking for scapegoats to recover from the GCTA mess and instead hold the greedy and corrupt BuCor and prison officers and personnel accountable for shortening the prison term of totally and notoriously undeserving inmates,” she said.

In her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 604, De Lima said 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.

De Lima said that “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.” (30)

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