Bilibid inmates run to SC to question new Good Conduct rules

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — Eight inmates of the New Bilibid Prison on Monday questioned the newly-revised implementing rules of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, which can shorten the time to be served by a prisoner.

The petitioners incarcerated in the state penitentiary, namely Russel Fuensalida, Toshing Yiu, Benjamin Galvez, Cerilo Obnimaga, Urbano Mison, Roland Gamba, Pablo Panaga, and Rommel Deang said the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) crafted by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was issued "with grave abuse of discretion amount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction."

The New IRR of expanded GCTA law issued on September 16 disqualifies heinous crime convicts from obtaining allowances for good behavior. It also bars recidivists, habitual delinquents, and escapists from all kinds of time allowances. The inmates asked the Supreme Court to declare this as invalid.

They said the DILG and DOJ went "beyond the law, for being tantamount to executive legislation, and for being in violation of the equal protection clause under the Constitution."

But the Justice department believes otherwise.

"We’ve called a number of laws in order to come up with the interpretation that is most suited based on the provisions of RA 10592 and we’ve also relied on existing jurisprudence and that’s where our confidence is based," Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said.

The petitioners also questioned a provision excluding heinous crime convicts from gaining good allowances or credits based on good behavior, which they said violates the equal protextion clause under the Constitution.

But the Justice department said this argument lacks basis as the Constitution "segregates" heinous crime convicts by providing that they may be sentenced to death.

They also asked the high court to order the Bureau of Corrections and BJMP to recompute with "reasonable dispatch" the time allowances due to prisoners.

The joint committee of the DOJ and DILG revised the IRR after "gaps" were found, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said. The first IRR of the GCTA law was penned by de Lima and Roxas in 2014, when they were the secretaries of DOJ and DILG.

CNN Philippines Justice Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.