Senate bill to amend GCTA law filed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — A senator has sought an amendment to the law reducing a prison sentence for good behavior.

Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon on Wednesday filed Senate Bill 974, which seeks to amend Republic Act 10592 that increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for prisoners.

READ: Computing ‘good conduct’: How time served in prison is shortened based on behavior

Gordon filed the bill amid questions on the implementation of the law following reports about the supposed early release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez faces seven counts of life imprisonment in connection with the rape and killing of two University of the Philippines-Los Banos students. He was reportedly among the 11,000 inmates who would benefit from GCTA scheme. President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has blocked his possible release following public outcry. The Justice department has also ordered the temporary suspension of the processing for time allowances.

READ: Duterte blocks early release of rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez

RELATED: Convicted ex-mayor Sanchez ordered released August 20, family says

Gordon said the bill “seeks to improve Republic Act No. 10592” to protect it against “abuse of powerful personalities.”

The proposal, he added, aims to “prevent the capricious, arbitrary and abusive implementation of RA 10592.”

The bill will amend Article 97 on allowance for good conduct, which provides the guidelines on the GCTA.

It added “authorized prison work” as among the activities that give additional 15 days of deduction to their sentence. Existing ones are study, teaching, and mentoring service.

SB 974 provides a definition of good conduct. Under the measure, good conduct refers to “faithful obedience to all laws rules and regulations including prison/jail rules and regulations and satisfactory behavior of a detention or convicted prisoner consisting of active involvement in rehabilitation programs, productive participation in authorized work activities or accomplishment of exemplary deeds indicating prisoner’s remorse, rehabilitation and aptitude to become productive and law-abiding member of society once released.”

The proposed measure disqualifies “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, persons convicted of heinous crimes and persons charged with another criminal offense while serving sentences” from the GCTA scheme.

Based on the bill, the GCTA earned by prisoners will be forfeited once they violate the good conduct definition. However, they will still be allowed to earn GCTA after.

SB 974 also directs the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to digitalize all prison records and come up with a computerized or automated template for monitoring the progress of detainees.

“In addition, a written computation table or manual of preventive imprisonment or service of sentence incorporating time allowances shall be prepared and used as the primary official reference by the BuCor, BJMP, and provincial jails,” the bill reads.

According to the bill, a list of prisoners who may be released on good conduct will be posted on the Bucor and BJMP websites, as well as in conspicuous places in prisons and city or municipal hall at least six months from their release. This will make sure that authorities can accept public opposition.

SB 974 deletes a clause under article 99 of the law which states that the allowance can no longer be revoked once granted. Instead, the bill allows computation and granting of GCTA to be reviewed by the Board of Pardons and Parole.