THE NEW GOOD CONDUCT TIME ALLOWANCE FOR PRISONERS and related DOJ Opinion on the Penal Colonist Status
Last March 18, 2014, Secretary of Justice Leila M. De Lima issued Memorandum (LML-M-18C14-366) clarifying the grant of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) and Penal Colonist status to prisoners. There were six issues resolved accordingly. First, “a colonist status can only be granted if the sentence of life imprisonment or reclusion perpetual was commuted by the President of the Philippines.” Second, “the duration of reclusion perpetua and life imprisonment is forty (40) years and remains to be a single and indivisible penalty.” Third, “the 30 year period in RA 7659 has no effect on the grant of a colonist status considering that reclusion perpetua is a single and indivisible penalty and its maximum duration is forty (40) years.” Fourth, “ there should be commutation of sentence on life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua before additional GCTA is applied.” Fifth, “subject to the requirement of commutation of sentence by the President, the grant of GCTA will be governed by the original provisions in the Bucor Manual.” And sixth, the Technical Working Group created to draft the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10595 (Bucor Act of 2013) will address the question on the determination of granting and withdrawing the privilege of GCTA and colonist status.
Corollary to the DOJ Memorandum dated March 18, 2014, another DOJ Memorandum Circular dated March 28, 2014 was issued by the Secretary of Justice. It refers to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10592, otherwise known as “An Act Amending Articles 29, 94, 97, 98 and 99 of Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, as amended,” or the GCTA Law. The circular mandates that the IRR should take effect “fifteen (15) days after the date of its publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.” Furthermore, the DOJ Circular directs “Bucor to strictly follow the procedures in the grant of the privilege (new GCTA) and to see to it that each inmate is given a copy of the IRR for their information.”
The IRR for the new GCTA has the following features:
- It should be construed liberally in favour of a detained or convicted prisoner.
- A Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee (MSEC) shall be created to determine the procedures and standards of behaviour for the grant of GCTA and related grants for submission as recommendation to authorities for approval.
- The grant of GCTA and other grants (like STAL and TASTM) shall be PROSPECTIVE in application.
- Aside from GCTA, an inmate stands to be granted Special Time Allowance for Loyalty (STAL) from 1/5 up to 2/5 from his preventive imprisonment or service of sentence; and Time Allowance for Study, Teaching and Mentoring (TASTM) corresponding to 15 days for every month of study or mentoring services.
- Deductible GCTA is based accordingly:
- First 2 years: 20 days off for each month
- Third to fifth year: 23 days off for each month.
- Sixth to tenth year: 25 days off for each month
- Eleventh and successive year: 30 days off for each month
6.“An appeal by the accused shall not deprive him of his entitlement to the time allowance.”
The IRR also defined certain corrective parameters in the administration of inmate documents and its application. Thus:
- Preventive imprisonment by a detainee is credited FULL TIME when there is a Detainee’s Manifestation.
- In the absence of the manifestation, when there is Detainee’s Waiver, the creditable period is four-fifths (4/5) of the time of preventive imprisonment. This means that 80% of his detention is credited in his record.
- GCTA has been included in the enumeration under partial extinction of criminal liability.
- Those authorized to grant time allowances are the following:
- Director of Corrections
- Chief, BJMP
- Wardens, Provincial, District, City or Municipal Jail
From hereon, the Corrective Services of the country (through Department of Justice and Department of Interior and Local Government) will have to incorporate and prepare a new manual for the application of said new GCTA law. Without “faithful compliance”, a corrective officer stands to be penalized for one year imprisonment, fine of P100,000.00 and perpetual disqualification to hold office.