PNP to do warrantless arrests if GCTA revoked?

News TV5 reports that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has said it can carry out warrantless arrests if the release of heinous crime convicts as beneficiaries of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law is revoked.

While no specific protocol had been established yet regarding the released convicts, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said they are ready to deploy tracker teams to monitor the inmates.

The PNP may face legal obstacles regarding this proposition. Under Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, "A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person: (a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another."

A warrantless arrest under (a) is called arrest in flagrante delicto. The one under (b) is called "probably cause arrest." Finally, the third one is called "arrest of an escapee."

The convicts released under the GTCA law cannot be arrested without warrant because they are not escapees, unless they have committed, are actually committing or are attempting to commit the crime at the time of the arrest without warrant. Also, in a probable cause arrest, a crime should have been committed and the arresting officer entertains a belief in good faith, guided by personal knowledge and reasonable suspicion, that the arrestee was the one who committed said crime.

News TV5: “Should there be any nullification or invalidation of their early release from prison, these convicts will be treated as fugitives from justice, thus warrantless arrest is applicable,” Albayalde said in a press briefing.

No, this is not supported by law and jurisprudence. Criminal laws are liberally construed in favor of the accused. A benefit granted by law to a prisoner cannot be later withdrawn and cause him to be rearrested because this will violate the basic rule that laws shall have no retroactive effect.

Moreover, the Government cannot grant a release and later revoke it because it has had a change of heart. It would be extremely unfair and whimsical for the PNP to do this. Such an act would be at the height of unreasonableness.
The fact that the inmates have been released by virtue of a law and due to release papers issued by the government makes them not subject to warrantless arrest. The PNP must go to court and secure a warrant in accordance with the Constitution which says that the right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable.

News TV5: The Bureau of Corrections said 1,914 inamtes had been granted early freedom from the 22,049 prisoners covered by Republic Act. No. 10592 or the GCTA law. The law allows the shortening of prison sentences based on good conduct.

Albayalde said the inmates can be rearrested if the Department of Justice invalidates their release, but admitted it would be challenging.

The police chief likewise said the PNP will delegate a point person to coordinate with BuCor and the DOJ.

“We are closely monitoring developments on this matter and will be guided accordingly by orders and issuances from higher authorities. To ensure inter-agency coordination, we will designate a liaison officer with the Department of Justice and BuCor,” he said.

Albayalde also pointed out that there are no existing protocols that require BuCor to inform the PNP about the release of convicted prisoners under the GCTA law.

SOURCE: Randell Ritumalta/JMF (2019). Warrantless arrests possible if GCTA releases recalled – Albayalde. TRACKER TEAMS READY. September 2, 2019 , 07:10 PM.