Ombudsman asks De Lima, Roxas to explain their GCTA rules

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — Ombudsman Samuel Martires has requested detained Senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and ex-Interior Chief Mar Roxas to explain the rules they've laid out for the implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance law when they were in office.

Martires questioned why the Implementing Rules and Regulation penned by De Lima and Roxas in 2014 failed to include the same disqualifications enumerated in the Republic Act 10592 or GCTA law, which allows for the early release of inmates based on good behavior.

The law states that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from its benefits. However, Martires said the IRR only excludes recidivists, an accused who was convicted more than twice, and an accused who was summoned but failed to surrender.

Martires, in the letter dated September 6 and served on Tuesday, ordered De Lima and Roxas to respond within three days.

"This Office requests the submission, within three days from receipt hereof, of a written explanation/clarification on why the foregoing provision in the IRR does not contain the same disqualifications as enumerated in the Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 1 of RA 10592," the letter read.

In a statement, De Lima said she finds the Ombudman’s order “highly irregular.”

“Am I to be treated here as a resource person, a respondent, or a probable respondent? Is this a set-up for me and Sec. Mar into taking the fall for the Sanchez-Faeldon scandal with which we have nothing to do?” De Lima asked.

Meanwhile, Roxas asked in a Facebook post why they are being "singled out" when they did not write the law that expanded the GCTA policy. He also said the officials who approved the release of convicts, the members of the committee who approved their release and people who give credits for good conduct should be investigated, too.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the joint committee of DOJ and DILG will explicitly exclude convicts of heinous crimes when they complete the process of revising the IRR. The release of inmates through the GCTA has been temporarily suspended as the joint committee finishes its work on polishing the IRR.

There is an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Ombusman into the alleged irregularities committed by the Bureau of Corrections in the questionable implementation of the controversial GCTA. Thirty BuCor officials have been preventively suspended for six months.

The implementation of GCTA led to the release of 1,914 heinous crime convicts since 2014. This also led to the release of four convicts in the Chiong sisters' rape-slay and the foiled release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez.