6,681 inmates freed from Metro jails

Thousands of inmates in Metro Manila jails under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology had been freed from 2019 to the present through the application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance under Republic Act 1052 which amended the Revised Penal Code.

GCTA refers to the jail time deducted from the term of imprisonment, a mechanism that may be availed of by well-behaved inmates with pending cases under the custody of the BJMP, or those serving time having been convicted already.

Inmates serving prison time after conviction are held in jails managed by the Bureau of Corrections or BuCor under the Department of Justice. The BJMP, on the other hand, is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

“Implementing the GCTA and other release modes like (through) bail is continuing in jails. From 2019 to this year, the BJMP-National Capital Region successfully released 6,681 PDL through GCTA,” the BJMP’s Metro Manila office said.

Earlier, the DILG welcomed a decision of the Supreme Court to decongest overcrowded jails in the country managed both by the BJMP and BuCor through the GCTA mechanism and an administrative circular.

It may be recalled that the GCTA scheme grabbed the spotlight in 2019 when news broke out that convicted murderer-rapist Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was among the thousands that may be released through GCTA despite his being not qualified to avail of it.

The uproar over the suspicion that GCTA approvals were being given in exchange for bribe money to the approving authorities kept Sanchez under lock and key.

Jails that are managed both by the BuCor and the BJMP are known to be overly congested, a problem magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic which prescribes social distancing even for inmates.

The DILG said the SC ruling is a “humane move” in promoting social restorative justice. The department was referring to the Administrative Circular 39-2020 issued by the SC under then Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.

Among others, the circular provided for reduced bail to those charged with crime punishable with a maximum period of reclusion temporal or 12 years and above to 20 years, while those charged with crimes punishable by six months and below may be released based on recognizance.

Those qualified under the SC guidelines may be released as soon as court orders are received in their respective BJMP facilities.

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