Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. INQUIRER file photo
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra welcomes the call of Senator Franklin Drilon to investigate the reported impending release of former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, saying it is an opportunity for Congress to review its own creation.
The senator, who was Justice Secretary at the height of Mayor Sanchez’ trial, wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop the possible release of Sanchez pending Senate inquiry. However, he said if the DOJ would not budge, he is inclined to help the victims’ family take the case to court.
“He doesn’t have to threaten this department. The conduct of a legislative inquiry is most welcome as the people are reacting to the effects of the law that the Congress itself enacted in 2013,” Guevarra said.
“This is a good time for Congress to review its own creation,” he added.
Guevarra maintained that the DOJ is simply implementing the laws enacted by Congress, in this case, Republic Act 10592 that increased the good conduct time allowance that can be deducted to an inmate.
Aside from that, Guevarra added that the Supreme Court in its June ruling ordered the DOJ and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to immediately implement the law retroactively.
“That’s the policy laid by our Congress, by our lawmakers, to give a chance, a second chance doon sa mga nakakulong who have shown that they have reformed themselves during confinement,” Guevarra said.
From the DOJ’s end, Guevarra said he reminded the BuCor through its Director Nicanor Faeldon to be more strict in vetting the inmates entitled to good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
“I have given direct instructions to [Faeldon] that the review of the GCTA for those charged with high profile or heinous crimes may be computed with a lot of care, a lot of caution, a lot of circumspection,” he said.
For now, Guevarra clarified reports that Sanchez is ready for release. He said the BuCor is still in the process of determining if the former mayor is qualified and if he has a GCTA that needs to be recomputed or if he is already disqualified given his other murder convictions and other infractions.
“Yung case ni Mayor Sanchez is still up for evaluation kaya di pa natin masabi, in fact, whether he is eligible at all…If he is not eligible, then, there is nothing to compute,” Guevarra said.
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