Drilon backs DOJ’s decision to suspend early release of prisoners

MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed on the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to suspend the processing of the release of inmates who are eligible for an early release under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law, saying “there is negligence, if not corruption, at the Bureau of Correction (BuCor).”

“I support the DOJ’s decision. I could not help but suspect that there are shenanigans happening inside the BuCor in favor of the rich and powerful inmates, including former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez,” Drilon said in a press release on Monday.

“The temporary suspension may affect prisoners who are really entitled for an early release based on good conduct time allowance. But with the people, including myself, worrying about the release of prisoners like Sanchez, the temporary suspension, pending review of the guidelines, is a welcome development,” he added.

Drilon said that if Sanchez’s violations were properly listed, Drilon said, the BuCor could not have said that the former mayor has already served 49 years.

“We must look into the records or what we called the prisoners’ karpeta, particularly that of Sanchez, and let’s find out if his violations were properly recorded,” Drilon said.

“How much does it cost for Sanchez’s karpeta, or that of any powerful and rich inmates, to be cleared of violations?” Drilon asked.

Drilon said that even without the DOJ saying that inmates who committed heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of the GCTA Law, Sanchez should not be released because of the misconducts he committed while in prison.

It was Drilon who prosecuted Sanchez and his six bodyguards when he was justice secretary for therape slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of Allan Gomez.

The senator also blamed “reckless pronouncements” made by some officials in the BuCor for the confusion surrounding the implementation of the GCTA law.

It was the Bureau of Corrections which announced that Sanchez has allegedly served 49 years based on the GCTA and is set to be released together with around 11,000 inmates, whose prison term would be cut short due to good conduct time allowance.

While Drilon supported the DOJ’s prompt action, the former justice secretary also raised some serious concerns.

“Are there prisoners that have been freed in the past based on the good conduct time allowance law? Are there inmates, who were sentenced guilty of heinous crimes, that have been released before the DOJ ruled that those guilty of heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of the law? If yes, how do we plan to bring them back to prison?” Drilon asked.

“Mayroon na bang napalaya? Kasama ba rito yung anim na bodyguards ni Sanchez? May nakalaya na ba? Sino sila? Ano ang kanilang nagawang krimen?” Drilon said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Monday.

Drilon earlier warned that Sanchez or any one affected by the ruling of the DOJ may bring the matter to the Supreme Court.

He said it is the court that will have the final say on the matter.

Drilon also appealed to the Senate Committee on Justice headed by Sen. Richard Gordon to immediately hold the hearing on resolutions he filed, as well as the resolution filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto, on the implementation of the GCTA and the news of Sanchez’s release.