Clear crime classifications expected as new GCTA manual nears completion — DOJ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17)— Revision of the manual on the granting of early release of prisoners with good behavior is done and is up for printing, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

“Actual copies can be sent to the various wardens of the jails and our prison facilities and prison farms across the country,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The updated manual details offenses that would disqualify inmates from the Good Conduct Time Allowance privilege as provided by the Department of Justice.

Already barred from obtaining credits under the new implementing rules of the Expanded GCTA law are heinous crime convicts, recidivists, escapees, and habitual delinquents.

Guevarra said the manual provides a clearer definition and classification of heinous crime to help guide authorities in their computation of prison terms.

“We had to go and identify, categorize certain crimes and offenses – alin dito 'yung matatawag na heinous, alin 'yung hindi (which ones can be classified as heinous, and which ones are not)? So that is one of the main obstacles that had to be clarified,” the Justice chief explained.

The GCTA law was thrust into the spotlight again recently following the case of United States Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was released last week for good behavior. The court said Pemberton’s accumulated jail time had already exceeded 10 years, his original sentence for killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

READ: Laude family's lawyer challenges basis for Pemberton's early release

Debates on Pemberton’s qualification for GCTA credits, however, died down when President Rodrigo Duterte granted absolute pardon to the American serviceman, who was deported to the US over the weekend.