MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Saturday said Malacañang was merely "stating facts", as he denied blaming the previous administration for the implementation of Republic Act 10592, which provided the grant of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) to prisoners.
"The President and this representation are not blaming the previous administration and Senator Leila de Lima, who was its Secretary of Justice, for the mess in the implementation of Republic Act No. 10592, particularly with respect to the provisions governing the GCTA for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs)," Panelo said in a statement sent to reporters.
Earlier, Senator Leila de Lima slammed Panelo for saying the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the GCTA Law paved the way for the release of inmates earlier convicted of heinous crimes.
Panelo argued that the Palace was "just stating the facts" which "remain clear and uncontroverted."
"The people are blaming the officials of this Administration for the GCTA fiasco. As for us, we would rather advise Senator de Lima to look in the mirror and ask herself who to blame for the same," he chided.
"It was Senator de Lima and Mr. Mar Roxas, when he was the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, who jointly issued IRR of RA No. 10592," he added.
Citing Rule IV, Section 3 of the law's IRR, which was used as basis for disqualifying certain persons from the benefits of GCTA, Panelo said PDLs charged with or convicted of heinous crimes were not included.
He added that "PDLs who were charged with heinous crimes, not being disqualified to be granted credit for preventive imprisonment" under the said provision "are therefore entitled to sentence deductions for good conduct" under Rule V, Section 1 (a) of the IRR.
Those already convicted of heinous crimes, on the other hand, are entitled under Rule V, Section 1(b) of the IRR, he added.
"These are the rules Senator de Lima crafted and these started all the mess with regard to the issue on GCTA," Panelo said.
Meanwhile, he said the sudden increase in the number of those purported to be eligible to avail of the benefits of GCTA under the Duterte administration "was due to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, a separate and independent branch of the government, which held that RA 10592 should be applied retroactively."
Panelo said the granting of GCTA benefits to persons charged with heinous crimes started way back when the IRR was issued.
"In any case, the Office of the President assures the public that those involved in corruption or incompetence in implementing the law on GCTA will be prosecuted," he said.
Panelo said such prosecution will also include those involved in the "GCTA for sale" scheme within the Bureau of Corrections.
"We will be fair and impartial as we will enforce the law not just against the officials who served the current administration but also against those who served during the previous one," he said. (PNA)