DOJ to inform SC on plan to suspend prisoners’ application for early release

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday disclosed that the Department of Justice will inform the Supreme Court that will be suspending the processing of applications for good conduct time allowance (GCTA) on convicts.

“We will surely inform the Supreme Court about the need to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs until the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) guidelines have been carefully reviewed by a DOJ task force to be constituted for the purpose. We expect the processing to pick up greater speed once the guidelines have been reviewed and firmed up,” Guevarra told reporters.

Guevarra pointed that this was to clear the air over the controversy brought by his recent pronouncement on the possibility that former Calauan, Laguna town mayor Antonio Sanchez, convicted of the 1993 rape-slay of University of the Philippines student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her companion Allan Gomez, might be released early over the grant.

The GCTA shortens the time of imprisonment based on a convict’s good conduct.

“We are reviewing the existing guidelines for GCTA and the BuCor will henceforth base its actions on any new guidelines that will come out,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Also, Guevarra bared that there we will a definite period within which to complete the review upon consultation with the BuCor, Bureau of Pardon and Parole, and other relevant agencies, to avoid any undue prejudice to the rights of persons deprived of their liberties who have validly earned GCTAs.

Sanchez hogged the headlines once again after it was reported recently that he maybe out from prison soon.

This was because of a new law increasing good conduct time allowance of prisoners (Republic Act 10592), and a recent Supreme Court decision applying this law retroactively.

Sanchez was convicted for the 1993 rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

The verdict was handed down on March 11, 1995 by Judge Harriet Demetriou, who said that the rape and murder of Sarmenta and Gomez were “a plot seemingly hatched in hell.”

The SC upheld the Laguna regional trial court ruling in 1999 against Sanchez, who is currently serving his sentence of seven terms of reclusion perpetua at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

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