Here’s Malacanang’s reply to Mrs. Thelma Chiong whose statement appeared to question President Duterte’s integrity in view of the release of convicts in daughters’ case

In view of the release of the convicts in her daughters’ case, Mrs. Thelma Chiong said something which appears to question President Duterte’s integrity.

Malacanang did not take this sitting down and responded on Facebook brilliantly.

Malacanang started by pointing out that RA 10592 was not enacted into law during the Duterte administration. In addition, the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) was also prepared not by the officials of the administration Mrs. Chiong tried to disparage but by the previous administration.

On criticism that the Duterte administration has released more convicts compared to the previous administration via RA 10592 and GCTA, Malacanang cited the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, an independent branch of the government which held that RA 10592 should be applied retroactively. So there you go.

In addition, Malacanang blamed the employees employed during the previous administration as responsible for including convicts not covered by RA 10592 in the list to be given the benefits of GCTA and who did the computations on time allowance which Malacanang said cannot be dismissed because they are protected by the Civil Service Law. Otherwise, PRRD can be accused of violating their security of tenure.

In the meantime, the officials in the BuCor are instructed to maintain the status quo until the congressional hearings are concluded.

Malacanang denied the Office of the President has the say on the actual computation of the GCTA because it does not pass the DOJ, hence it will not even reach the Office of the President before its benefits can be granted to qualified inmates.

Granting of GCTA isn’t a form of executive clemency which the power of such is vested upon the President. Malacanang said the buck stops with the Bureau of Corrections.

Malacanang remarked that blaming PRRD for RA 10592 is unfair and undeserved. Took note of the comment of Congressman Rufus Rodriguez that the bill they passed in the Lower House was only limited to deducting preventive imprisonment from the sentence of the accused. The expanded law of the GCTA was the Senate’s idea.

Malacanang blamed the insertion of the Senate as one of the reasons why the drafting of RA 10592 resulted in legislative measure which appeared ambiguous at first glance to its enforcers.

Malacanang is keeping all options open including the re-arresting those released for GCTA and cognizant of the case cited by Sen. Drilon, People vs Tan where the SC ordered the re-arrest of a person who was erroneously released by a jail warden based on GCTA.

Malacanang said the President will not tolerate any form of injustice under his watch and it is for this reason he will ensure the practice of past administration on the granting of GCTA is halted.

On the defense of brother commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and for the understanding of the general public, please read:

Presidential Spokesperson on the concern of Mrs. Thelma Chiong and the Congressional Hearing on the law on GCTA

The Office of the President addresses the mother of victims Marijoy and Jacqueline, Mrs. Thelma Chiong. She appears to question the integrity of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in asking the latter about what happened to his law on good conduct time allowance (GCTA) in view of the release of the convicts in her daughters’ case. With due respect to Mrs. Chiong, Republic Act No. 10592 was not enacted into law during this Administration. It was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III in 2013, with Mr. Sonny Belmonte and Mr. Juan Ponce Enrile, being the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President, respectively, in Congress.

As revealed during the discussions during the congressional hearing yesterday, it has been the practice of the Bureau of Corrections, during the previous administration, to release persons deprived of liberty from imprisonment due to good conduct, regardless of whether they were serving their sentences for a conviction of a heinous crime or not. The basis for this practice was the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law, crafted and issued jointly by former Secretary of Justice and now detained Leila De Lima and former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Manuel Roxas II, in 2014, which included those convicted of heinous crimes as qualified to avail the benefits of RA No. 10592.

Cleary, the law and its IRR were prepared not by the officials of this Administration but by the previous one. The practice of granting GCTA to those convicted of heinous crimes has also been existent years before PRRD assumed his presidential seat. Meanwhile, the sudden increase in number of those purported to be eligible to avail of the benefits of GCTA was due to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, a separate and independent branch of the government, which held that RA No. 10592 should be applied retroactively.

Further, those who had a hand in including convicts not covered by the law in the list to be given the benefits of GCTA and who did the computations on time allowance were probably employees employed during the previous administrations and are therefore protected by the Civil Service Law. Hence, PRRD could not – and cannot – just remove them without violating their security of tenure.

As regards the officials in the Bureau of Corrections, the President will maintain the status quo until the congressional hearings are concluded. He will be monitoring the conduct of the legislative investigation and give appropriate consideration to the findings of Congress.

For the further information of Mrs. Chiong and the public, the actual computation of GCTA does not pass through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and therefore will not even reach the Office of the President before its benefits can be granted to qualified inmates.

We stress that the granting of GCTA is not a form of executive clemency, the awarding of which belongs to the Office of the President. The buck in this case stops with the Bureau of Corrections.

While the Palace understands the plight of Mrs. Chiong and commiserates with her situation, we believe that blaming PRRD for Republic Act No. 10592 with all its ambiguities is undeserved and unfair. We take note of the comment of Congressman Rufus Rodriguez that the bill they passed in the lower house was only limited to deducting preventive imprisonment from the sentence of the accused. The expanded law on GCTA was the Senate’s idea. Perhaps the insertion made by the Senate is one of the reasons why the drafting of RA No. 10592 resulted in a legislative measure which appeared ambiguous at first glance to its enforcers. Even presently there are various interpretations of the law as to its coverage. We join the DOJ in hoping that any ambiguity in the law be remedied by the current Congress.

The Office of the President urges the DOJ to study the possibility of re-arresting those released for GCTA but were disqualified by law, such as those convicted of heinous crimes. We note that the case cited by Senator Franklin Drilon, People vs. Tan, where the Supreme Court ordered the re-arrest of a person who was erroneously released by a jail warden based on GCTA, may be a good legal basis for the same. We also note that Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code on the irrevocability on the grant of GCTA is premised on the grant having a lawful justification. Without a lawful justification, therefore, the said grant is void and the person who benefitted from it may not invoke its irrevocability hence can be incarcerated to continue his or her sentence.

The President will not tolerate any form of injustice being committed under his watch and it is for this reason that he will ensure that the practice initiated by the past administration on the granting of GCTA will no longer continue.

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