Revised IRR of GCTA law ‘open to serious legal challenge’ – NUPL head

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FILE PHOTO. Enacted in 2013, the GCTA law, or Republic Act 10592, expanded the GCTA provided to prisoners. Prior to this, inmates are entitled to lesser time allowances under the Revised Penal Code.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — The head of a lawyers group on Wednesday questioned the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, saying it is “open to serious legal challenge.”

“We feel that wittingly or unwittingly, despite good intentions, presumably. It may be tantamount to executive legislation,” National Union of Peoples' Lawyer (NUPL) President Edre Olalia said.

A joint committee of the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior and Local Government on Tuesday released the new IRR, following controversies hounding the policy over the questionable release of some heinous crime convicts.

READ: Despite revision of GCTA rules, Sanchez can still earn good conduct allowances

Enacted in 2013, the GCTA law, or Republic Act 10592, expanded the GCTA provided to prisoners. Prior to this, inmates are entitled to lesser time allowances under the Revised Penal Code.

Section one of the law expressly excludes heinous crimes convicts from credit preventive imprisonment. But such exclusion for the good conduct time allowance is not stated under Section 3. The old IRR reflected this.

“The water cannot rise above the source. The rules and regulations cannot expand or even emasculate for that matter what is in the law,” Olalia said.

The new internal rules, he added, departs from the intention of the law.

“The intention of the law is reformative. It should benefit the accused. So if you apply those exclusions as the law stands now via an IRR then that is expanding or stretching to the prejudice of those who would deserve the granted time allowance,” Olalia said.

“We cannot use the bad examples of Mayor Sanchez and I agree he should not be freed; or even the convicted accused in the Chiong sisters as the barometer [of] whether or not this GCTA must be applied,” he added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says they are ready to defend the revised IRR.

“If there’s any constitutional objection to excluding certain kinds of PDL (people deprived of liberty) on the ground of equal protection law, then any person who wants to challenge the law should got to the appropriate judicial forum,” Guevarra said.

The secretary said he would have wanted heinous crimes convicts separated from recidivists, habitual delinquent, and escapists.

“’Yun bang laging nangii-snatch or dalawang beses nag-akyat bahay ay parehas lang sa rapist or murderer?” he said.

[Translation: Are snatchers and thieves the same as rapists and murderers?]