Justice officials, welcomed Monday the petition challenging the validity of the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) of the Expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance law before the Supreme Court (SC) even as he conceded it will be up to the high court to decide the IRR’s fate.
“I cannot comment on the petition itself. It is the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) who will represent the public respondents and submit the proper comment on their behalf. All I can say is that I’ve eagerly awaited the filing of this petition,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters.
“Considering that some important provisions of RA 10592 have been interpreted differently by various groups, I have as much interest as anyone in knowing the correct legal interpretation. Only the Supreme Court has the final word on the issue and I hope that it will affirm mine,” he added.
Justice spokesman Undersecretary Markk Perete for his part confirmed that the legal challenge was expected.
“We actually expected a petition coming from them. So I think the revised IRR that we prepared will withstand legal scrutiny so we are pretty confident that the petition will be heard by the court of course but we do believe that the revised IRR that we prepared is in consonance with the law.” he said.
Perete said criticism that the IRR engages in executive legislation is improper.
“We’ve addressed that in so many levels before. As I’ve said we’ve called a number of laws in order to come up with the interpretation that is most suited based on the provisions of RA 10592 and we’ve also relied on existing jurisprudence and that where our confidence is based against this particular challenge.”
Perete said there can be no violation of the constitutional equal protection clause in the IRR since “(H)einous crime convicts are in fact segregated by the Constitution itself,”
He added that the constitution itself “says that heinous crimes convict may be penalized by the death penalty so we do not think that the equal protection clause is a valid basis for impugning the basis of the IRR,”
A petition before the SC has been filed by lawyers representing inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and asked the Supreme Court to stop the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to refrain from retroactively applying the exclusions introduced under Section 1 of the Expanded GCTA law and relations to provisions of the IRR.
The petitioners told the high court that said provisions are “disadvantageous to any prisoners.”
The Expanded GCTA law has increased the reward of time that are deducted off a person deprived of liberty (PDLs) prison term. The petitioners said “it becomes clear that the deprivation of application of greater GCTA and consequent prolongation of imprisonment of herein petitioners and those similarly situation constitute violation of their substantive rights.”
They said that the public outrage about the supposed “erroneous” application of GCTA led the DOJ and DILG to revise the IRR.
“Ultimately, herein petitioners and those who are similarly situated are the ones who are suffering and are continuing to suffer. Unless these issues befitting our country are clarified by judicial pronouncement of no less than the Supreme Court, they shall continue to suffer from it,” the petition read. (PNA)