POSTSCRIPT / September 10, 2019 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

Share This

Unfair to prisoners who behave in jail

SOME of the 1,914 prisoners who have been released under RA 10592 (the GCTA Law) must have deserved the freedom earned through their good behavior. Should they be deprived of their now normal lives and hauled back to the Bilibid penitentiary?

The sweeping hunt for the ex-convicts on the Department of Justice recall list looks unfair and unjust if their cases have not been individually reviewed first as to the correct application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance law (RA 10592).

Why should convicts whose good behavior has earned for them a reduction of their sentence be made to suffer with those who simply bought, or worked out through influence or connections, their early release?

 Why should the deserving and rehabilitated prisoners be penalized for the incompetence, corruption and greed of prisons officials?

As @JegoRagragio said on Twitter: “On principle, they should not have been forced back into prison. Their release was a result of an act of the State, mistake or not. What ought to have happened was that administrative and criminal cases should have been filed against those directly responsible.”

Then we read in the news of President Duterte extolling the “uprightness” of erstwhile Bureau of Corrections Director Nicanor Faeldon and see the Marine officer-turned-bureaucrat grinning like he just swallowed something delectable.

No wonder some netizens ask in social media what Faeldon – who was previously sacked as Customs commissioner after a huge shabu shipment was sneaked in under his nose — has on the so-called Davao group linked to reported big-time smuggling, some of it allegedly involving illegal drugs.

We expect the Senate blue-bleaching committee to find Faeldon smelling as clean as fresh laundry – and ready for appointment or promotion to another juicy position in the Duterte apparatus.

It is odd that one of those doing the washing, Sen. Bato dela Rosa, was the predecessor of Faeldon at Bilibid. He should not be sitting as judge but be on the carpet being grilled on the release during his watch as BuCor chief of convicts of heinous crimes.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año disclosed over the weekend that some of the released prisoners have fled abroad. How did they secure passports while they were locked up in Bilibid? The mess might be bigger than it seems.

Their supposed flight does not jibe with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s saying that he had not received any report of former inmates having left. He should know, with the bureaus of correction and immigration, aside from the National Bureau of Investigation, being under him.

Without showing a verified list of those who have fled, Año said the government has sought the help of the Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization). It was not clear on what charges, if any, the former prisoners were being rounded up.

Guevarra has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin covering the 1,914 prisoners released under the GCTA law. Such a bulletin, which is only a lookout alert, is a notch lower than a Hold Departure Order that only a proper court may issue.

 Make Sanchez pay P12.6-M damages

THE JUSTICE department should file action to force Calauan ex-mayor Antonio Sanchez, the rape-murder convict whose impending release blew up the GCTA mess, to pay P12.6 million in damages to the families of his victims, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

The Supreme Court has ordered Sanchez and his co-accused to pay the civil indemnity to the families of UP Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, his victims, but Sanchez’s common-law wife told the Senate hearing that they would not pay.

How can Sanchez claim good behavior if he insists on defying a Supreme Court order to pay his victims? Guevarra said the period for filing action to force payment has prescribed.

Drilon, himself a former justice secretary, pointed out however: “There are Supreme Court decisions saying that on principle of equity, if the strict application of the law will result in manifest wrong or injustice, then that prescriptive period can be disregarded.”

He said that while there is prescription of execution of judgment pursuant to Section 6 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, in various cases such as in the Heirs of Simeon Trinidad Pieda vs. Bobiles and Bobiles in 2007, the SC allowed the execution of a final and executory judgment even if prescription has set in.

In the case cited, he said, the Court emphasized the principle of equity and the liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure when a literal and strict adherence will result in miscarriage of justice.

He also cited the Camacho vs. Court of Appeals case, where the SC interrupted the tolling of the prescriptive period or deducted from the prescriptive period “when the peculiar circumstances of the case or the dictates of equity called for it.”

Drilon said he was thinking of introducing an amendment in the GCTA law that will require the satisfaction of the judgment rendered, particularly payment of indemnities, before a prisoner could avail himself of the benefits of the law.

Drilon noted that Sanchez was also ordered to pay damages in another case, the killing of father and son Nelson and Rick Peñalosa, as well as in another case involving his non-filing of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. Not a single centavo has been paid, the senator said.

“Sanchez’s intention not to pay the damages to the Sarmenta family is not only arrogance but also an indication of an unjustifiable behavior and disrespect to the decision of the Supreme Court,” he said.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 10, 2019)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.