FIRING LINE By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

FIRING LINE By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Paradise lost

In response to President Duterte’s order to surrender within 15 days or be hunted as fugitives, many heinous crime convicts have chosen to give up the paradise that they have enjoyed briefly through the freedom granted them erroneously.

Out of almost 2,000 convicts who gained freedom under the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, 74 have already surrendered as of Saturday, according to the acting head of the national penitentiary. Of this number, 38 returned to the Bureau of Corrections while 36 surrendered to the police.

They opted to surrender rather than wait for the 15-day grace period to expire. When this happens, the GCTA-released convicts would automatically be considered fugitives and hunted down.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured those who would surrender would be treated with utmost respect and fairness.

The DOJ and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) suspended the implementation of GCTA, which allows prisoners to be released early depending on their behavior during incarceration.

A female witness has already exposed the freedom-for-sale scheme, through the GCTA, being offered allegedly to families and loved ones of convicts to hasten the latter’s release.

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General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, ordered all police units nationwide to receive the prisoners who were released through GCTA and would heed the President’s order to surrender.

Albayalde also said they would not hesitate to obey the President’s shoot-to-kill directive against those who refuse to surrender and resist arrest.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año announced that tracker teams would be deployed in several parts of the country starting September 19 to go after released heinous crime convicts.

The government could also seek the help of the Interpol or apply our country’s extradition agreement with other nations if needed to return convicts that have gone abroad.

Everyone is quite aware that some of our police officers would only be too eager to obey Duterte’s command when it comes to shooting the convicts. One would even consider it a feather in his cap.

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