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Hunt for freed convicts begins

September 20, 2019

The police has deployed dozens of tracker teams to hunt down convicts released by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

The 15-day grace period given by President Rodrigo Duterte for the freed prisoners to surrender ends today, September 20.

“The manhunt will be done with or without a reward. Though a reward may be helpful to entice possible informants against convicts who will fail to surrender,” Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac

The Department of Justice said the arrest of the released convicts is legal since those who did not surrender will be treated as fugitives.

Banac said the PNP deployed 121 tracker teams nationwide. Each team is composed of five police officers. The manhunt will be led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

The President earlier said convicts who refuse to surrender should be captured “dead or alive.”

As of Thursday, the PNP said more than 500 out of the 1,914 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes had surrendered. Of this number, 349 have been transferred to the BuCor.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Guillermo Eleazar said the police preferred to capture the convicts alive. However, he said force would be used if the freed prisoners resisted arrest.

“‘Pag pumalag sila at makipag-away sa atin, of course we have to defend ourselves just like any other operations (If they resist, fight us, we have to defend ourselves),” Eleazar told reporters in a press briefing in Taguig City.

He said 28 out of the 38 police stations in Metro Manila would send out tracker teams.

“Nagbibigay tayo ng final warning sa kanila, pinakamaganda na sila’y sumuko na sa pinakamalapit na police station (We are giving them final warning, it is better for them to surrender to the nearest police station),” Eleazar said.

PNP chief Oscar Albayalde admitted that not all freed convicts would surrender to the police.

“We do not expect all 1,914 subject for recall to surrender,” Albayalde told reporters.

The release of prisoners under the GCTA Law became controversial when authorities announced that former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted of rape and murder, would be among those to be released.

The Justice department suspended the implementation of the GCTA Law, and amended its implementing rules and regulations to exclude those convicted of heinous crimes and recidivists from the law’s coverage.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier said the prisoners’ GCTA would be recomputed, and those whose release is found legal would be freed.

Meanwhile, the Justice department said it would give priority to sickly and old prisoners in the recomputation of sentences.


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