CamSur judge urges DOJ to approve GCTA

By Ed G. Yu


NAGA CITY --- The presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 61 here has appealed to Department of Justice (DOJ) Sec. Menardo I. Guevarra to sign and release the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) manual so that persons deprived of liberty (PDL) or prisoners convicted of crimes who are entitled to GCTA can be released from prisons.


Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr., of RTC Branch 61 in Naga City, made the appeal to Guevarra in a court order on Dec. 7, 2020 on behalf of Justine Candelaria, who under a plea bargain judgment on Aug. 27, 2019 was convicted by Santos for a lesser offense of rape with sexual assault.


Santos meted Candelaria “an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment with a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years,” which the latter agreed “to serve to this maximum extent and not apply for probation.” There was also no waiver of GCTA.


On July 30, 2019, prior to the GCTA controversy involving convicted rapist ex-Mayor Antonio Sanchez, Chief Inspector Gerardo S. Berdin, warden of the Naga City District Jail (NCDJ) , issued a Certificate of Time Allowance Earned stating that Candelaria who was detained in NCDJ since April 6, 2018 has already accumulated a total of 280 days of time allowance.


The 280 days is equivalent to 9 months and 7 days.


Santos said that “at that point, his (Candelaria) actual period of stay (in prison) was 1 year, 3 mos. & 24 days; his time allowance earned was 9 mos. & 7 days; and his total period of detention with time allowance was 2 years, 1 mo. & 1 day.”


On December 7, 2020, when Santos issued the appeal to the DOJ secretary, Candelaria “already has an actual period of stay of 2 years & 8 months. By now, with additional time allowance of earned, his new total period of detention with time allowance appears to be already more than 3 years, his maximum sentence to be served.


Santos said that if only the GCTA manual has been signed and released by Guevarra, Candelaria and other convicts who are similarly situated could have been released in time for Christmas.


Pending Guevarra’s approval and release of the GCTA manual, the processing, computation and application of GCTA of qualified PDL is on hold.