The good conduct time allowance and heinous crime

By: Fernando Fajardo September 04,2019 - 06:20 AM

Most of us are not lawyers but given that most of our actions or inaction may transgress any of the existing laws in the country, it is just right for us to know a modicum of our existing laws and their penalty when transgressed if only to guide us in our daily activities. For as often said, ignorance of the law excuses nobody.

One such law that is becoming the subject of debate and national interest today is Republic Act 10592. Otherwise known as the Good Conduct Time Allowance Act (GCTA), this Act amends Article 29, 94, 97, and 99 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (RA 3815).

The debate centers on the fact that most of those who were released or about to be released because of their good conduct were heinous crime convicts. The debate started when the public came to know of the impending release of the former mayor of Calauan, Laguna who was accused and convicted for the heinous crime of rape and murder.

Are those convicted of heinous crimes not covered under the GTCA Act?

Section 1 of RA 10592 now read as follows:

“ART. 29. Period of preventive imprisonment deducted from term of imprisonment. – Offenders or accused who have undergone preventive imprisonment shall be credited in the service of their sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty, with the full time during which they have undergone preventive imprisonment if the detention prisoner agrees voluntarily in writing after being informed of the effects thereof and with the assistance of counsel to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, except in the following cases: (1) When they are recidivists, or have been convicted previously twice or more times of any crime; and (2) When upon being summoned for the execution of their sentence they have failed to surrender voluntarily, (and so forth).”

Finally, Section 1 stated that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.

Now Section 2, Article 94 of the same Act says that criminal liability is extinguished partially by (1) conditional pardon; (2) commutation of the sentence; and (3) for good conduct allowances which the culprit may earn while he is undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving his sentence.

Finally, Section 3. Article 97 of the same Act says, “The good conduct of any offender qualified for credit for preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 of this Code, or of any convicted prisoner in any penal institution, rehabilitation or detention center or any other local jail shall entitle him to the following deductions from the period of his sentence . . .”

I am not a lawyer but as a laymen it is not hard for me to see that the keywords here to understanding whether those convicted of heinous crimes are covered or not under the Good Conduct Time Alowance Act (RA 10592) are found in Section 1 of Article 29 and Section 3 of Article 97.

To repeat, Section 1 of Article 29 on Preventive Detention as amended under RA 10592 under says that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act while Section 3 of Article 97 also says that the good conduct of any offender qualified for credit for preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 of this Code . . . shall entitle him to the following deductions from the period of his sentence, and so forth (Italics mine).

Noting that heinous crime convicts are excluded from the coverage of this act under Article 29, it follows that they are also not qualified to enjoy the good conduct time allowance provided under Article 97 of the same act.

Based on these, therefore, it can be concluded that former Mayor Sanchez and all others like him who were convicted of heinous crimes are not covered under the GCTA or RA 10592.

Now what is a heinous crime? There is no clear definition of what heinous crime is. It varies from country to country depending on their prevailing ideology and culture.

In the Philippines, however, RA 7659 imposes death penalty on certain heinous crimes. In this Act, heinous crimes include treason, piracy in general and mutiny in the high seas, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, rap, importation, distribution, manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs.

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