The deadline for prisoners “erroneously” released under the controversial Good Conduct law to turn themselves in has passed, but don’t expect a massive manhunt any time soon, not after the Department of Justice (DOJ) discovered the list police were working from was riddled with errors.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told radio station DZMM yesterday that the DOJ has ordered police to postpone the re-arrests because at least 40 men supposedly freed under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law might have served their full terms or been paroled through other legal avenues.
Kind of important when you take into account the fact that President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly insinuated that those who fail to turn themselves in might find themselves dead.
It gets worse. In a separate interview with ANC, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said there might be some convicts on the list who didn’t commit heinous crimes at all.
“I was informed that there have been a few PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) in what we may call a gray zone or gray area when we cannot really determine without looking at the records of their cases whether they committed heinous crimes,” Guevarra said.
The DOJ’s decision to pull the plug on the manhunt, however, came a little late for at least five convicts who were arrested this morning in Makati City and Manila, according to CNN Philippines. Metro Manila police chief Major Guillermo Eleazar said he has yet to receive an official directive from the DOJ, but will follow Guevarra’s verbal orders.
There’s been more than a little confusion surrounding the number of convicts freed under the good conduct law. In the list submitted by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to the Senate earlier this month, 2,160 prisoners convicted of heinous crime were said to have been freed since 2014.
However, the DOJ’s Perete said yesterday that only 1,914 are expected to surrender because some names in the list were unverified cases. That might come as a shock to some prisoners, given that — as of last night — 1,950 had surrendered to the authorities, the Philippine Star reported.