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Philosophy of Law JD 1-1

Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

Motion

This House believes that Republic Act No. 10592, hereafter referred as the
Amended GCTA Law or R.A. 10592,1 is a good law for being consistent with the norm of
the constitution, integrating different philosophical foundations of our legal system, and
helping alleviate the sociological infirmities of the penal system in the Philippines.

However, just like other laws, it can be amended and its implementing rules and
regulations may be updated from time to time for as long as it would conform to the test
of validity2 and constitutionality3 of statutes.

Constitutionality, Validity, and the Norm of the Constitution

Presumption of constitutionality and validity with the exception of the former IRR

As of this writing, there is no petition or Supreme Court decision filed to question


the constitutionality of R.A. 10592. There is always a presumption of constitutionality or
validity of legislative acts.4 What was challenged was the former implementing rules and
regulations (IRR) of this statute that provided for the prospective application of this law,
although the Supreme Court already ruled that such provision in the IRR is already invalid,
thus the IRR shall have a retroactive effect as it is favorable to the accused or convicted
person.5

To this we concur because there is nothing in RA 10592 which says that the law
is prospective in its application. In the hierarchy of laws, the IRR must submit to the
provisions of a national law and must conform to the standards of the national law it came
from, and the latter prevails when there is discrepancy between the two. 6 Article 22 of the
RPC mandates: “Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the
person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5
of Article 62 of this code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final
sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.” This law will only

1
Variant label: RA 10952
2
Vague or invalid statute: 1) it violates due process for failure to accord persons, esp. the
parties targeted by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and 2) it leaves law enforcers unbridled
discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle
(165 SCRA 186).
3
Unconstitutional laws: 1) they are not within the legislative powers of Congress to enact or
Congress has exceeded its powers; 2) they create or establish arbitrary methods or forms that
infringe constitutional principles; and 3) their purposes or effects violate the Constitution or its basic
principles (In Re Cunanan, Resolution March 18, 1954).
4
66 Phil. 483 and 41 SCRA 702
5
Supreme Court of the Philippines. (2019). SC Rules In Favor of Prisoners and Inmates.
Retrieved from http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/4510/
6
Agpalo, Ruben. (2009). Statutory Construction. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing
Company, 42; 23 SCRA 1184 and 221 SCRA 515 (1993).

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

have no retroactive application if it is expressly made inapplicable to decided cases,


pending actions, or existing causes of action7 or that the offender is a habitual criminal.

Thus, absent of express language in RA 10592 of its prospective application, the


provision of the former IRR to this effect is duly held invalid. The remaining parts of the
IRR that are valid will remain in so far as they do not contradict with the intention and
express language of the national law, which it is based from, as well as the new IRR
promulgated in 2019.

Harmony With Existing Laws

There has never been a case where RA 10592 is conclusively found to have been
inconsistent or highly irreconcilable with the application of laws that came before it.
Providing incentives for good conduct through time allowance is one of the ways that the
State extends its acts of mercy or clemency to the accused or convicted. Other
manifestations of mercy or clemency in our criminal justice system include but are not
limited to the options for parole, probation, appeal, certiorari, and other remedies. The
GCTA system has been in force since the promulgation of the Revised Penal Code in
1932, although it has been amended over the years.8

What the Constitution Expresses and Their Construction

It is established that among the inherent powers of the State is police power. 9
Allusions to this can be traced in Article II, Sections 3 to 5 of the Constitution.10 We believe
that the act of putting suspects in jail and convicts in prison is an exercise of the police
power of the State. Since this power also talks of regulation for the general welfare of the

7
Tavera vs. Valdez, 1 Phil. 463, 470-471
8 SEE: RA 6127, E.O. 214 of July 10, 1987, and RA 10592.
9 It is the power to govern persons and things (31 Phil. 245). It includes the plenary power of
the State to enact laws or regulations in relation to persons and property as may promote public
health, public morals, public safety, and the general welfare and convenience of the people (760
SCRA 652). The State can prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society
(685 SCRA 254).
The right of prosecution and punishment for a crime is one of the attributes that by a natural
law belongs to the sovereign power instinctively charged by the common will of the members of
society to look after, guard and defend the interests of the community, the individual and social rights
and the liberties of every citizen and the guaranty of the exercise of his rights. The power to punish
evildoers has never been attacked or challenged, as the necessity for its existence has been
recognized even by the most backward peoples (U.S. vs. Pablo, 35 Phil. 94, 100).
10
Section 3. Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of
the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the
sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.
Section 4. The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people. The
Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens
may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service.
Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property,
and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the
blessings of democracy.

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

people, to choose whose period of sentence would be deducted based on good conduct
time allowance provided by law.

This is also in consonance with other sections of Article II of the Constitution:


Section 11 on values the dignity of every individual and full respect for human rights as
this incorporates principles of restorative justice and Section 17 as to priority to education
and promotion of total human liberation and development as it provides incentives in
addition to ordinary good conduct11 for those who would spend time in formal studying
and teaching.

It also empowers the following sections of Article III of the Constitution: Section 19
paragraph one against excessive fines as this law extends to those in preventive
imprisonment under conditions provided by law even if they are not yet convicted,12
Section 19 paragraph two as this addresses the use of substandard or inadequate penal
facilities under subhuman conditions, and Section 22 on the prohibition for an ex post
facto law that may invalidate a criminal law for its improper retroactive application unless
it would benefit the accused or person convicted.

Furthermore, we believe that RA 10952 is not violative of the equal protection of


laws13 even if this law excludes recidivists,14 those convicted previously twice or more
times of any crime, those who did not surrender voluntarily upon being summoned for the
execution of their sentence, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes. 15 The
equal protection is construed as a restraint on all the organs and inherent powers of the
government to protect the rights to life, liberty and property.16

This means that no discrimination is extended by the State to private individuals


unless the discrimination is aided or supported by State action, while this discrimination
does not mean adding rights to one citizen over the other.17 Those who are exempted
from GCTA grants are those whose crimes have been defined under the law, and are
usually accompanied by aggravating circumstances that would sentence them to capital
punishment if not for the suspension of such a penalty.

Moreover, the Court accepted the construction of the equal protection clause as
all persons subject to such legislation shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and
conditions both in the privileges conferred and in the liabilities imposed.18 To exclude the
application of this law against those defined in Section 1 of RA 10952 is reasonable and

11
The language used in Section 1 of RA 10592 as to ordinary good conduct seems to refer to
those who abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners.
12
There are people who are in jail because they cannot afford bail.
13
Section 1, Article III, 1987 Philippine Constitution
14
A recidivist is one who, at the time of his trial for one crime, shall have been previously
convicted by final judgment of another crime embraced in the same title of this Code (Article 14, item
9, Revised Penal Code).
15
RA 10592, Section 1; Heinous crimes are defined in RA 7659.
16
People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 (1937).
17
People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 (1937).
18
Laurel vs. Misa, 76 Phil. 372, March 28, 1946

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

falls on the tests of reasonableness on the valid classifications done in our laws. 19 The
labels used to classify them are already defined in our laws or that the circumstances are
self-explanatory, and they are substantially different from other accused and offenders.

Society and the penal system have a long history of frowning upon recidivists,
those convicted previously twice or more times of any crime, those who did not surrender
voluntarily upon being summoned for the execution of their sentence, escapees, and
persons charged with heinous crimes. The penal system does not incentivize such
behaviors, although there could still be other legal remedies to treat the nature of their
cases and for those charged or convicted under those circumstances to be reintegrated
back into society, and this is part of a structural-functionalist notion that those persons
are not absent of any other remedy, and those remedies were already taken into account
when the RA 10952 was enacted into law.

Therefore, since RA 10952 does not violate any law or constitutional provision,
and it submits to the police power of the State, it is not infirmed in so far as the norm20 of
the Constitution is concerned.

Integration of Different Philosophical Foundations of our Legal System

Classical Theory vs. Positivist Theory: A Constructive Combination

The Code Commission that drafted the Revised Penal Code integrated the
classical theory in criminal law where the purpose of the penalty is retribution because
the basis of criminal liability is human free will, establishing a mechanical and direct
proportion between crime and penalty,21 and there is scant regard to human element. The
Commission also incorporated the principle of positivist theory in criminal law that has its
allusion to restorative justice22 as a solution because, in this theory, humans are subdued
occasionally by a strange and morbid phenomenon which conditions him to do wrong,
and crime cannot be treated and checked by the existence of mere punishment but of
individual measures conducted by investigations and with the aid of a competent group
of psychiatrists and social scientists.23

Retributive justice seeks to deter future animalistic behavior of the criminal who
take their selfish interest over and above that of society24 by having a mechanical and

19
Quinto vs. Commission on Elections 606 SCRA 258, December 01, 2009; Test of reasonable
or valid classification: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the
purposes of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It applies equally to all
members of the same class.
20
Resident Marine Mammals vs. Secretary of Department of Energy, G.R. No. 180771, April
21, 2015
21
Reyes, Luis. (2012). The Revised Penal Code Criminal Law Book One Articles 1-113.
Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 23.
22
Restorative Justice22 is defined in Section 4q of RA 9344.
23
Estopia, Judge Pelagio, and Estopia, Maria Rovi. (2015). Compendia of Revised Penal Code
Book 1 and Book 2. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 1.
24
People vs. Echegaray 267 SCRA 682 , February 07, 1997

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

direct proportion between crime and penalty. Restorative justice, on the other hand, seeks
to obtain reparation for the victim; reconciliation of the offender, the offended and the
community; and reassurance to the offender that he/she can be reintegrated into society.
It also enhances public safety by activating the offender, the victim and the community in
prevention strategies.25

The Amended GCTA Law integrates both theories by exercising police power
through preventive and punitive measures in the form of deprivation of liberty, which our
laws acknowledge as a form of retribution, and promotes restorative justice by
incentivizing good conduct through deduction of period of sentence for those qualified
under the law. Therefore, it is constructive as far as legal theory is concerned.

It may be asked on what constitutes good conduct for time allowance. The law, as
we have established, incentivizes those who follow disciplinary rules imposed on
convicted persons. It empowers the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of
the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and/or the Warden of a provincial, district,
municipal or city jail to grant allowances for good conduct.26 It may be argued that their
decisions can be remedied by a petition for certiorari, since the RA 10952 provides that
such grants cannot be revoked. However, a strict compliance to such a sentence would
be disregarding all the provisions in our legal system, especially when the Court ruled in
Madrigal Transport, Inc. vs. Lapanday Holdings Corporation:27

The special civil action for certiorari and appeal are two different remedies that are
mutually exclusive; they are not alternative or successive. Where appeal is
available, certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground therefor is grave abuse of
discretion. Basic is the rule that certiorari is not a substitute for the lapsed remedy
of appeal.

We believe that since there is no provision for appeal to counter the grant of a good
conduct time allowance for those undergoing preventive or punitive detention, a legally
acceptable alternative is a petition for certiorari, and the parties involved must still adhere
to the police power of the State as to the effectivity or implementation of the Court’s
decision.

Once the court decides, the practice of the interpretivist or constructivist theory in
law may apply as the judge or the deciding authority applies general principles of law that
best fit the case being settled to best accommodate the common convictions of the
Philippine community.28 Thus, the application of RA 10952 can be a constructive
combination of the classical and positivist theories from where our criminal laws are based
from.

25
Section 4q, RA 9344. It also says that this refers to a principle which requires a process of
resolving conflicts with the maximum involvement of the victim, the offender and the community..
26
Section 5, RA 10952.
27
436 SCRA 123, August 11, 2004
28
Bernardo, Nicolo, and Bernardo, Oscar. (2014). Philawshophia Philosophy and Theory of
Law. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 35-36.

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

Natural Law

Natural law is an objective standard of right and wrong derived from the use of
right reason29 and a reasonable basis for state law.30 It has influenced our jurisprudence
through the years.31 It has been there since the birth of our republic, where even our
heroes such as Jose Rizal and Apolinario Mabini spoke of natural law in different ways.32

The right of prosecution and punishment for a crime is one of the attributes that by
a natural law belongs to the sovereign power instinctively charged by the common will of
the members of society to look after, guard and defend the interests of the community,
the individual and social rights and the liberties of every citizen and the guaranty of the
exercise of his rights (U.S. vs. Pablo, 35 Phil. 94, 100).

We have also previously established that there is a natural or inherent police power
of the State to regulate relations of persons and property (760 SCRA 652). The necessity
for its existence has been recognized even by the most backward peoples. 33 As far as
the GCTA is concerned, there is an exercise of the natural police power of the State as it
subjects offenders to preventive and punitive imprisonment, and provides remedies for
each case.

Functional or Sociological Approach

This approach looks into law as a measure for behavioral conformity and social
engineering and, ideally, balances the diverse interests and institutions of society to
promote progressive policies.34 It seeks to order society composed of competing interests

29 Gatdula, Jeremy Benigno. (2013). Natural law as law standard. Retrieved from
http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Natural-law-as-law-
standard&id=72888
30
De Leon, H.S., and De Leon, H.M., Jr. (2014). The Law on Obligations and Contracts.
Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., p. 3.
31
Natural law and natural obligation can be found to be have been mentioned in the following
cases: People v. Asas, People v. Agbot, Mobile Oil Philippines, Inc. v. Diocares, Manila Memorial
Park Cemetery v. Court of Appeals, Yu Con v. Ipil, In Re Testate Estate of Narciso Padilla,
Moncado v. El Tribunal del Pueblo y Juan M. Ladaw, Laurel v. Misa, Ansay v. the board of directors
of the National Development Co., Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank v. NAMAWU-MIF, De
La Llana v. Alba, Marquino v. Intermediate Appellate Court, Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources
Corporation v. Titan-Ikeda Construction and Development Corp., and the inconsistences of Justice
Mendoza's repellance and acceptance of natural law in Imbong vs. Ochoa.
32
Gatdula, Jeremy Benigno. (2016). Stop using natural law wrongly! Retrieved from
http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Stop-using-natural-law-
wrongly&id=123310; Gatdula, Jeremy Benigno. (2018). Mabini, Hamilton, conservatism, and nation
building. Retrieved from https://www.bworldonline.com/mabini-hamilton-conservatism-and-nation-
building/
33
U.S. vs. Pablo, 35 Phil. 94, 100
34
Bernardo, Nicolo, and Bernardo, Oscar. (2014). Philawshophia Philosophy and Theory of
Law. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 40.

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and criticizes the institutionalization and bureaucratization of laws that have become
unresponsive to concrete situations as the law adapts to shifting social conditions.35

Under RA 10952, the justice system incentivizes those who conform to disciplinary
measures and those who spend time into formal study, teaching, and mentoring. This is
a mechanism of social engineering to encourage those undergoing preventive and
punitive detentions to conform to this behavior that would benefit them and society.

As for competing interests, we have previously established that RA 10952


reconciles or combines the dynamics of retributive and restorative justice through
detaining as suspects or convicts those who violated the law, and provides a way for the
period of their sentence to be deducted based on their good conduct time allowance when
the State, through its agents, sees that their behavior is manifestly improving towards
productivity and conformity under the law.

Then, RA 10952 lessens the gravity or degree of the hold of the State’s claws or
chains of police power on those who are seeking to be in harmony with the law to become
responsive to the possibility that the criminal mind of the accused or the convict has
lessened and, perhaps, to set free one who may have not committed the crime charged
at all.

Moreover, we also suggest that a structural-functionalist view has been considered


in the enactment of this law. This view, according to Macionis (2006), sees society as a
complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.36 There is
stability and consistency when we allow the integration of relatively conflicting legal
philosophies, values, and interests to work together in the form of this law, while being
consistent in the frowning upon those who are not qualified to get grants under this law,
with the view that there could be other existing remedies in the law or those that can still
be created through an act of Congress, however not through executive legislation, to be
consistent with the State’s maintenance of peace and order as well as its acts of mercy
without abolishing the penal system and consistently with respect to retribution and
restorative justice while accounting proper classifications of what society condemns and
incentivizes.

Addressing the Sociological Infirmities of the Philippine Criminal Justice System

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) reported that, for early
2019, there are 136,881 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) although jail facilities
nationwide can only accommodate almost 30,000 persons.37 It was reported that for a

35
Ibid.
36
Macionis, John. (2006). Macionis, John. (2006). Society: Understanding the Basics. Jurong,
Singapore: Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd., 11-12.
37
Gonzales, Catherine. (2019). Jail population: Congestion at 400% bigger in 2019–BJMP.
Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1095693/jail-population-balloons-congestion-at-400-
bigger-in-2019-bjmp

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Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

certain space for 170 persons there are 518 inmates who sleep in such a space.38 This
may result into the transfer of infectious diseases due to a variety of factors, which is
beyond the control and express wishes of the judgment and jurisprudence of our legal
system towards accused and convicts. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
acknowledges that not all of those confined for preventive or punitive detention are guilty
as charged.39

The budget for BJMP for 2019 amounted to around P18.9B40 while the total budget
appropriations for the Bureau of Corrections is P2,938,415,000.41 In spite of this, it was
reported that only twenty-percent (20%) of police stations are owned by the government
for the police, and they lack patrol cars, pistols, facilities, and equipment to effectively run
after actual criminal offenders.42 Hence, our jail system is congested and billions of
Philippine pesos are poured into the maintenance of our criminal justice system, and
these are not enough to manage the whole penal system in the Philippines. While we do
not propose for the abolishment of such system, we believe that RA 10952 can help in
decongesting our jails and prisons for a more efficient use of our budget for our penal
system.

In a separate opinion on People vs. Temporada, the Court–in an obiter–borrowed


words from the late William Blackstone to remind us that persons “cannot suffer more
punishment than the law assigns, but he [or she] may suffer less.” 43 In a foreword for
Judge M.B. Campanilla, attorney Pearlito B. Campanilla wrote: “If the true test of
civilization can best be measured on how it gives care and respect to its law offenders,
then they should not spend a day more in jail than they deserve.”44

In one study by Philip Zimbardo from Stanford University, his group experimented
on a mock prison system and its possible psychological effects on the people involved.
They had legally innocent persons grouped together to act as inmates, guards, and other
characters for two weeks in a mock prison area. In turns out, that even those who
identified themselves as pacifists became crueler in the burdens that they imposed on the
inmates in this experiment study, and had the stop the mock experiments in six days,

38
Almendral, Aurora. (2019). Where 518 Inmates Sleep in Space for 170, and Gangs Hold It
Together. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/07/world/asia/philippines-manila-jail-
overcrowding.html
39
Virola, Romulo. (2011). Guilty and not guilty! Retrieved from
http://nap.psa.gov.ph/headlines/StatsSpeak/2011/091211.asp
40
Department of Budget and Management. (n.d.). 2019 budget of BJMP increased to address
jail congestion. Retrieved from https://www.dbm.gov.ph/index.php/secretary-s-corner/press-
releases/list-of-press-releases/1237-2019-budget-of-bjmp-increased-to-address-jail-congestion
41
Department of Budget and Management. (n.d.). Bureau of Corrections. Retrieved from
https://www.dbm.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/NEP%202019/DOJ/B.pdf
42
Peralta, Ana Maria Rotor. (2015). Society, Culture, and Personality: The Social Science
Perspectives. Fairview, Quezon City: Guide Enterprise, 153-164.
43
People vs. Temporada 574 SCRA 258 , December 17, 2008, Separate Opinion of Justice
Corona; brackets added.
44
Campanilla, Marlo. (2018). Penal System Under the Revised Penal Code As Amended By
RA No. 10951. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, v.

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although it was supposed to go on for two weeks. The conclusion is that there are
environments, situations, and conditions, such as being in a prison context, that may
negatively affect even the most moral person placed in such an environment.45 Although
if a prison system encourages good behavior, we have a finding on how the British
prisoners successfully developed the Australian nation through a diffusion of prosperity.46

We believe that RA 10952 provides an acceptable alternative, in addition to other


remedied provided by law, to pursue restorative justice for those whose character has
been reformed and those who may have been wrongly accused or sentenced to prison.
Additionally, RA 10952 encourages resocialization47 and may even be supported by other
programs and laws of government in its implementation.

How It May Be Wrongly Applied

Recently, the country was alarmed with the possibility of setting free former Mayor
Antonio Sanchez because of RA 10952.48 Sanchez was convicted for the crime of rape
and murder.49 Under RA 7659, rape was mentioned fifteen (15) times while murder and
homicide were mentioned four (4) different times in the circumstances considered as
heinous crime.

Heinous crime is defined as something so grievous, odious and hateful offenses


and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and
perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency
and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society.50 It is a grave felony as defined in the
Revised Penal Code, or an offense punishable under special law, committed in a manner
that is revolting or shocking to the common sensibilities of man, whether deliberately
sought or not, such as those attended by cruelty, ignominy, treachery, and similar
circumstances.51
The following are considered as specific acts of heinous crime: treason, piracy,
qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention,

45
Gladwell, Malcolm. (2000). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
New York, New York: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown, and Company, 152-155.
46
Acemoglu, Daron, and Robinson, James. (2012). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power,
Prosperity, and Poverty. New York, New York: Currency, 274-301.
47
Macionis, John. (2006). Society: Understanding the Basics. Jurong, Singapore: Pearson
Education South Asia Pte Ltd., 81.
48
Yap, DJ. (2019). Clamor mounts for ouster of BuCor chief. Retrieved from
https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1159814/clamor-mounts-for-ouster-of-bucor-chief ; CNN Philippines
Staff. (2019). Convicted ex-mayor Sanchez ordered released August 20, family says. Retrieved from
https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/8/27/Antonio-Sanchez-family-release-order-BuCor.html
49
People vs. Sanchez 302 SCRA 21, January 25, 1999; People vs. Sanchez 367 SCRA 520,
October 18, 2001.
50
Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. (1993). Republic Act No. 7659. Retrieved
from https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1993/12/13/republic-act-no-7659/
51
Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. (1992). Executive Order No. 3, s. 1992.
Retrieved from https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1992/07/07/executive-order-no-3-s-1992/

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robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, rape, plunder,
RA 6425 (Sections 3 to 5, 7 to 9, 14, 14-A, 15, and 16), and carnapping.52

RA 10952 specifically provided that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and


persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.53 There
have been confusing interpretations on this, especially when the DOJ Spokesperson said
that not all those convicted on heinous crimes are disqualified from the Amended GCTA
law54 and former Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te said that only those
charged, or those not yet convicted, with a heinous crime undergoing preventive
imprisonment are exempted from GCTA grant.55

We believe that these are misinterpretations or misconstructions of the letter and


spirit of the law. While said exemption was written under the section of preventive
suspension, Section 1 of RA 10952 already wrote who are exempted under preventive
suspension. They are the following:

1. When they are recidivists, or have been convicted previously twice or more
times of any crime; and
2. When upon being summoned for the execution of their sentence they have failed
to surrender voluntarily.

The additional exemption to the application of this law was written in a different
paragraph and said that:

recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous


crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.

From the language of this provision, the exemption does not cover only those in
preventive imprisonment but those who are availing of a GCTA grant under RA 10952. If
we would look into its legislative history, we can see that this exemption was not present
in its original language back in 1932 when the Revised Penal Code first took effect. It was
not present when RA 6127 amended the GCTA provision in 1970 and when E.O. 214 of
July 10, 1987 was promulgated.

This exemption was inserted only by the Legislature in RA 10592 which was signed
in 2013, which is a clear and expressed intention of Congress not to make grants under
the enumerated unwanted circumstances without taking away the right of those who were

52
Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. (1993). Republic Act No. 7659. Retrieved
from https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1993/12/13/republic-act-no-7659/
53
RA 10952, Section 1.
54
ABS-CBN News. (2019). Not all heinous crime convicts disqualified from 'good conduct'
release: DOJ. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/18/19/not-all-heinous-crime-
convicts-disqualified-from-good-conduct-release-doj
55
Buan, Lian. (2019). Can heinous crimes be excluded from good conduct time allowance law?
Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/238378-can-heinous-crimes-be-excluded-good-
conduct-time-allowance-law

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Philosophy of Law JD 1-1
Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

qualified to avail of it prior to the enactment of RA 10952 and only until such date of
enactment.

Therefore, it clear that those convicted of heinous crimes are exempted from the
application of this provision. So far, we have RA 7659 that defines and specifies what
heinous crimes are, and we also have Executive Order No. 3, s. 1992 that gives a
supplementary definition of what a heinous crime is.

If there was confusion in the language of the statute, it is the Supreme Court that
must define it. However, the Supreme Court has yet to promulgate a decision that is
different from how a heinous crime is understood and briefly discussed above.

It may also be asked if the exemption is given only to those who are charged with
a heinous crime and not those who were convicted, thus supporting the idea this
exemption in the law is only for those who are undergoing preventive imprisonment.

We also disagree.

Being charged of an offense is absorbed in a conviction of a person in a criminal


proceeding. Therefore, the use of the word “charged” was simply to accommodate both
those undergoing preventive and punitive imprisonment and it does not rid the exemption
to those who were convicted of heinous crime and other circumstances that the law does
not wish itself to be applied. The charge in the conviction is implied.

As to the validity of President Duterte’s orders calling the more than 1,914 inmates
freed under the GCTA law,56 we submit that this is a matter that may be submitted to the
Supreme Court for review to determine whether or not the presumption of the validity of
this order would be pierced and finally declared invalid. Our opinion arises on the fact that
RA 10952 provides that section 5 of the said law reads as:

ART. 99. Who grants time allowances. – Whenever lawfully justified, the Director
of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of the Bureau of Jail Management and
Penology and/or the Warden of a provincial, district, municipal or city jail shall grant
allowances for good conduct. Such allowances once granted shall not be
revoked.

The granting of the GCTA should be lawfully justified as provided in the statute.
The law is clear on to whom the grants should not be given. We believe that the non-
revocation of the grant is subject to the test on whether or not the grant is based on the
sufficient standard that the law mandates. The law must be read as a whole and, in this
section, must be checked with the words associated with one another, having in mind that

56
Patag, Kristine Joy. (2019). Duterte wants 1,914 heinous crimes convicts to surrender.
Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/09/04/1949040/duterte-wants-1914-
heinous-crimes-convicts-back-prison ; Merez, Arianne. (2019). Duterte orders freed heinous crime
convicts under GCTA law to surrender. Retrieved from https://news.abs-
cbn.com/news/09/04/19/duterte-orders-freed-heinous-crime-convicts-under-gcta-law-to-surrender

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Philosophy of Law JD 1-1
Debate on the Amended GCTA Law Group Members: Dela Cruz, Acosta, Alegre, & Baay

this must be consistent with other laws and rules that govern the same subject or areas
they intertwine with.

Then, as we previously established, if there is no appeal available in such a case,


then the grant can be challenged through a petition for certiorari or prohibition. The Court
may still have to rule on the validity of President Duterte’s orders calling back to jail or
prison those who were freed based on the IRR promulgated by the previous
administration. The IRR must submit to what our national laws mandate or rule on the
matter, because the IRR is inferior to these in the hierarchy of laws.

Conclusion

Affirming what we have placed in our introduction, the Amended GCTA Law–like
other laws–can be amended further.57 As of this week, the new IRR is in effect.58 We
believe that these could be duly amended to best fit the conditions of our penal system
and how our people wish this to be improved through the different ways we can formally
and informally communicate our thoughts and sentiments on this matter to our leaders.
This is part of our democratic process. There is a proposal to have GCTA grants reviewed
by the Department of Justice and that the Bureau of Corrections would submit its report
to Congress twice a year.59 There could be other informed alternatives that may be taken.

But, for now, we believe that RA 10952 is a good alternative we have to address
the legal and sociological realities we have in our country’s penal system. We also like to
reiterate the following: “The Court, in a separate opinion, remind us that persons “cannot
suffer more punishment than the law assigns, but he [or she] may suffer less.” 60 Also, in
a foreword, “If the true test of civilization can best be measured on how it gives care and
respect to its law offenders, then they should not spend a day more in jail than they
deserve.”61

Prepared by:

Jochebed “OBED” Dela Cruz


Email: princeobed_dc@yahoo.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RepublikaNiObed/

57
Angara, Juan Edgardo "SONNY." (2019). Amending the GCTA Law. Retrieved from
https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/09/08/amending-the-gcta-law/
58
Lagrimas, Nicole-Ann. (2019. Unstopped, new IRR of GCTA law takes effect —DOJ. Retrieved
from https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/710517/unstopped-new-irr-of-gcta-law-takes-
effect-doj/story/ ; See copy of revised IRR here: https://www.scribd.com/document/426205620/RA-
10592-Revised-IRR#download&from_embed
59
Cervantes, Filane Mikee. (2019). Go backs Duterte order to re-arrest heinous crime convicts.
Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1079619
60
People vs. Temporada 574 SCRA 258 , December 17, 2008, Separate Opinion of Justice
Corona; brackets added.
61
Campanilla, Marlo. (2018). Penal System Under the Revised Penal Code As Amended By
RA No. 10951. Quezon City, Philippines: Rex Printing Company, v.

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