Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra expressed optimism that the new Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10592 on expanding Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) will hurdle future legal challenge.
Guevarra made this comment after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a petition filed by former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez and fellow inmates challenging the constitutionality of the revised IRR of GCTA.
“Sanchez’s petition was dismissed on procedural grounds. I’m confident that if refiled, the same will be dismissed for lack of merit,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“I prefer that the dismissal be on the merits, Sanchez has lawyers and they know what to do. The DOJ is ready to meet the legal challenge anytime,” the DOJ chief added as welcomed the high court’s ‘more substantive’ ruling based on the merits instead of technicalities.
In its resolution on December 3, the SC’s en banc turned down Sanchez’ petition for failure to pay the required docket fees and failing to comply with other procedural requirements.
Last year, Malacañang said questions on the legality of the possible release of Sanchez should be addressed to Congress as the executive branch could only abide by RA 10592 which was passed in 2013.
Sanchez was sentenced to seven counts of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her companion, Allan Gomez, in 1993.
The new IRR was signed in September last year amid concerns that unqualified persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) were benefiting from the provisions of RA 10592.
The law amended the provisions of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) that would allow the much earlier release of PDLs.
Sanchez and other inmates had sought nullification of the revised IRR which disqualify recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and those convicted with heinous crimes from benefiting from the GCTA. (PNA)