Iwahig penal farm Senior Superintendent Geraldo Aro (in BuCoR unifor) and City Councilor Elgin Damasco (in blue polo shirt) with the four GCTA-released PDL who voluntary surrendered on September 6, 2019. The four came to Damasco to seek his help in surrendering.

Four Iwahig convicts who were released this year due to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law that reduced their sentences voluntarily surrendered Friday to penal farm Corrections Senior Superintendent Geraldo Aro.

Aro said they are the first out of over 300 GCTA-freed persons deprived of liberty (PDL) that the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) are expecting to voluntarily surrender two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered crime convicts to return within 15 days or be considered as fugitives.

Their “open to choice” surrender, according to Aro, was assisted by City Councilor Elgin Damasco whose help they personally sought.

“The four voluntary surrenderers are the initial number received by the colony,” Aro said to Palawan News.

Aro said full cooperation on the reinvestigation and recomputation of their GCTAs are expected.

They will temporarily stay inside a holding area in the IPPF Building 4, where they will be provided with food and other needs while the probe on their GCTAs is ongoing.

Iwahig Senior Superintendent Geraldo Aro shakes the hands of the GCTA-released convicts who voluntarily surrendered to him on September 6, 2019.

“Hindi ko ilalagay sa regular dormitory ang mga sumurender, ilalagay sila sa malaking building — temporary holding area sa lower portion ng Building 4. We are expecting 200 na surrenderers,” Aro said.

Aro, who commended the four convicts for their positive response on the call of Duterte, said their demeanor should be emulated by the others who were released earlier due to the GCTA.

He said their discipline only showed that Iwahig was able to reform them well.

“Natutuwa naman tayo na may disiplina sila na hindi na kinakailangan pa na hanapin pa sila. This is a good example that they are willing to cooperate with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), I appreciate their gesture,” he said.

One of the inmates interviewed by Palawan News, a 73-year-old man who was released in February 2019, said it was his choice to voluntarily surrender as he fears being hunted by the police to be shot and killed.

Alias Ramon, who was jailed in Iwahig for rape, has already served 31 years and six months before he was released

He is originally from Caloocan, but no longer wishes to go back there as his family is already in Puerto Princesa.

“Sumama ako sa kanilang sumuko dahil sa takot ko na rin na mapasama sa shoot-to-kill order. Panibagong adjustment na naman na matutulog sa kulungan at may naiwang pamilya sa labas. Ang hiling na lang namin ay mapabilis ang pagre-review ng GCTA para malaman namin kung makakalaya na talaga kami,” he said.

Meanwhile, Damasco said three of the four went to his office also Friday morning to ask for his help to surrender to Aro after learning about Duterte’s order.

Damasco said he is willing to help them follow-up on the recomputation of their GCTAs so they can be free if it will be confirmed they are qualified.

“Itong apat ay pumunta sa atin dahil sa narinig nilang order ni President Duterte dahil natatakot din sila sa shoot-to-kill order. Ang tulong na mabibigay natin sa kanila ay isa rin tayo sa magfo-follow-up para lumabas nang mabilis ang recomputation ng GCTA nila,” he said.