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What boys tinker with, Digong straightens out

September 10, 2019 - Tuesday 4:09 AM by Jimmy Laking

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What boys and girls tinkered with, it took real men to rectify them.

Or so this seemed to be the case with Republic Act No. 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance that Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III signed into law on May 29, 2013.

The intention of the law was to allow reduction of sentences for inmates or detained persons under a process based on good conduct. You can say offhand it looks like and sounds like a good law.

But it did not reckon with a penal system that is shot through with holes. Or with the proclivity of those managing the penal system to commit wanton corruption any which way.

Most glaring still, it was passed during a time when the Philippine government was not in a position to enforce it to the full intent of the law, mired as it was with controversy after controversy that came to be understood fully in their true light when a more determined watch assumed over Malacañang.

Now it seems we have Laguna murderer-rapist Antonio Sanchez to thank for indirectly exposing what has gone wrong with the law.

And had not President Duterte pointed out the obvious, only a few would have known that Republic Act 10592 excluded recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes.

And had it not been for the uproar created by Sanchez’ impending release, only a few would have known that close to 2,000 persons who were jailed for heinous crimes have already been released because of the passage of the law.

This raised a red flag. Duterte was not only furious. He was probably aghast that however you look at it, corruption is written all over the face of this fiasco.

In a decision that was decisive as it was unexpected, President Duterte ordered heinous-crime convicts who were released under RA 10592 to give themselves up to authorities or face the life of fugitives.

This is decisive leadership at its finest, something his predecessors would not have dared to do. There was no dilly-dallying. Give up or face the music.

“I will give you 15 days liberty, provided you make yourself available anytime that you will be called for investigation to have a recomputation, or if there’s an investigation of corruption that you cooperate fully.”

He has also offered P1 million bounty for each fugitive who will not surrender.

But convicts who will "surrender in good faith" will not be sent back to prison but will be requested to help in the probe on the anomalies linked to the implementation of the GCTA.

I think that it took some time before President Duterte arrived at the decision. It was a difficult one to make. But it is not unexpected.

The release of the inmates was a travesty of justice. They cannot have their cakes and eat them too. Not under President Duterte’s watch and it should stay that way.