Background photo grabbed from PTV 4

A Palawan judge has blasted the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over the controversial computation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez who was rumored to be released from the New Bilibid Prison soon despite nine reclusion perpetua sentences.

Judge Bani Usman of the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 50 took to his Facebook account on Thursday to question BuCor on how it computed the GCTA of the former Calauan, Laguna mayor who was jailed for the 1993 rape-slay of Mary Eileen Sarmenta, 21, and the killing of Allan Gomez, 19, both students of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

The GCTA is a sentence commutation scheme given to convicted inmates for good behavior under Republic Act 10592 approved in 2013 by then-president Ninoy Aquino.

The Act amended the Revised Penal Code (RPC), particularly Article 97, which gives GCTA to inmates who display orderly and lawful attitude while serving their sentences in jail.

“How must the BuCor compute the GCTA of a convict who is serving multiple reclusion perpetua sentences? Each perpetua sentence has a maximum duration of 30 years only, but in no case a convict should serve more than 40 years (Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code),” Usman said.

Usman said in the case of Sanchez, who was also found to be in possession of a stash of shabu and allegedly “having a good life while serving his sentences”, the decision of BuCor to make him a candidate for release in a month or two will have anyone “dumbfounded as a cow”.

He said nine reclusion perpetua cannot be served at the same time as ruled by the Supreme Court (SC) in many cases.

“Was anybody dumbfounded as a cow when this was announced by the BuCor?” he said.

Usman said Sanchez must serve the sentences “30 years at a time”, stating his GCTA should be deducted from each reclusion perpetua over time.

After Sanchez’ first 30-year sentence has been reduced by his GCTA, then he is deemed to have served it and should begin serving the second and the others, he said.

Usman said each reclusion perpetua, however, must not exceed 40 years.

“The Bucor presumably reduced all the nine sentences of Sanchez into 40 years right away and from this, it deducted the GCTA he allegedly accumulated, from which I seriously take exception as he obviously has not been conducting himself appropriately while inside the National Penitentiary,” Usman said.

“So is this computation by the BuCor a just interpretation and implementation of Article 70 of the RPC? You tell me,” he added.