The Supreme Court in their En Banc session on 25 June 2019 and in a decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, declared invalid Section 4, Rule 1 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (“IRR”) of Republic Act No. 10592 (“R.A. 10592”) in so far as the said IRR provided for the prospective application of the grant of time allowance of prisoners for: i.) good conduct, ii.) study, teaching, and mentoring service, and iii.) loyalty.
As a consequence, all prisoners regardless of whether already serving his/her sentence or undergoing preventive imprisonment may qualify for the reduction of their sentence pursuant to the time allowances under R.A. 10592.
The decision was in connection with the following consolidated cases:
Inmates of the New Bilibid Prison, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al.; Atty. Rene A.V. Saguisag, Sr. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al.; William M. Montinola, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al. (G.R. No. 212719).
Reynaldo D. Edago, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al. (G.R. No. 214637)
R.A. 10592 which was passed into law on 29 May 2013 amended Articles 29, 94, 97, 98, and 99 of the Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3815 or “RPC”). The important amendments under RA 10592, among others, are as follows:
1.) It expanded the application of the good conduct time allowance for prisoners even during preventive imprisonment.
2.) It increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct time allowance.
3.) It allowed additional deduction of 15 days for each month of study, teaching, or mentoring service.
4.) It expanded the special time allowance for loyalty and made it applicable even during preventive imprisonment.
On 26 March 2014 an IRR was jointly issued by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Leila H. De Lima, and the Secretary of the Department of Interior, Manuel A. Roxas II. However, Section 4, Rule 1 of the IRR directed the prospective application of the grant of good conduct time allowance (GCTA), time allowance for study, teaching, and mentoring (TASTM) and special time allowance for loyalty (STAL) to prisoners. Section 4, Rule 1 of the IRR reads:
Section 4. Prospective Application. – Considering that these Rules provide for new procedures and standards of behavior for the grant of good conduct time allowance as provided in Section 4 of Rule V hereof and require the creation of a Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee (MSEC) as provided in Section 3 of the same Rule, the grant of good conduct time allowance under Republic Act 10592 shall be prospective in application.
The grant of time allowance of study, teaching and mentoring and of special time allowance for loyalty shall be prospective in application as these privileges are likewise subject to the management, screening and evaluation of the MSEC.
The petitioners assail the validity of the said provision of the IRR on the ground that it violates Article 22 of the RPC, which provides:
Article 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. – Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the persons guilty of the felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.
In the decision, the Supreme Court took note of the definition of “penal laws” to be: “Penal laws and laws which, while not penal in nature, have provisions defining offenses and prescribing penalties for their violation.”
Thus Justice Peralta, in granting the petition and declaring the IRR invalid in so far as it provides for the prospective application of the grant of GCTA, TASTM, and STAL, stated in the decision:
“While R.A. No. 10592 does not define a crime/offense or provide/prescribe a penalty as it addresses the rehabilitation component of our correctional system, its provisions have the purpose and effect of diminishing the punishment attached to the crime. The further reduction of the length of the penalty of imprisonment is, in the ultimate analysis, beneficial to the detention and convicted prisoners alike; hence, calls for the application of Article 22 of the RPC.
“The prospective application of the beneficial provisions of R.A. No. 10592 actually works to the disadvantage of petitioners and those who are similarly situated. It precludes the decrease in the penalty attached to their respective crimes and lengthens their prison stay; thus, making more onerous the punishment for the crimes committed. Depriving them of time off to which they are justly entitled as a practical matter results in extending their sentence and increasing their punishment. Evidently, this transgresses the clear mandate of Article 22 of the RPC.”
With the said ruling of the Supreme Court, and considering the increased time allowances for GCTA, TASTM, and STAL under R.A. 10592 given to qualified inmates, there will be a substantial reduction in their respective penalties; which eventually will result in the decongestion of the jail system in the country.
The court voted as follows:
The following Justices voted to grant the petition –
- Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin
- Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio
- Justice Diosdado M. Peralta
- Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo
- Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe
- Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen
- Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Cagouia
- Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr.
- Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo
- Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr.
- Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando
- Justice Rosmari D. Carandang
- Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier
- Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting
The following Justice took no part –
- Justice Francis H. Jardeleza (on official leave)
(G.R. No. 212719,
Inmates of the New Bilibid Prison, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al.;
Atty. Rene A.V. Saguisag, Sr. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al.; William M.
Montinola, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M. De Lima, et al.; G.R. No. 214637, Reynaldo D. Edago, et al. vs. Sec. Leila M.
De Lima, et al. June 25, 2019)
 ART. 29. Period of preventive imprisonment deducted from term of imprisonment. – Offenders or accused who have undergone preventive imprisonment shall be credited in the service of their sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty, with the full time during which they have undergone preventive imprisonment if the detention prisoner agrees voluntarily in writing after being informed of the effects thereof and with the assistance of counsel to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, except in the following cases:
- When they are recidivists, or have been convicted previously twice or more times of any crime; and
- When upon being summoned for the execution of their sentence they have failed to surrender voluntarily.
If the detention prisoner does not agree to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, he shall do so in writing with the assistance of a counsel and shall be credited in the service of his sentence with four-fifths of the time during which he has undergone preventive imprisonment.
Credit for preventive imprisonment for the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be deducted from thirty (30) years.
Whenever an accused has undergone preventive imprisonment for a period equal to the possible maximum imprisonment of the offense charged to which he may be sentenced and his case is not yet terminated, he shall be released immediately without prejudice to the continuation of the trial thereof or the proceeding on appeal, if the same is under review. Computation of preventive imprisonment for purposes of immediate release under this paragraph shall be the actual period of detention with good conduct time allowance: Provided, however, that if the accused us absent without justifiable cause at any stage of the trial, the court may motu propio order the rearrest of the accused: Provided, finally, that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act. In case the maximum penalty to which the accused may be sentenced is destierro, he shall be releases after thirty (30) days of preventive imprisonment. (Amendments in bold, italicized, and underlined words)
 ART. 94. Partial extinction of criminal liability. – Criminal Liability is extinguished partially:
- By conditional pardon;
- By commutation of sentence; and
- For good conduct allowance which the culprit may earn while he is undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving his sentence. (Amendments in bold, italicized, and underlined words)
 ART. 97. Allowance for good conduct. – The good conduct of any offender qualified for credit for preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 of this Code, or of any convicted prisoner in any penal institution, rehabilitation or detention center or any other local jail shall entitle him to the following deductions from the period of his sentence:
- During the first two years of (his) imprisonment, he shall be allowed a deduction of twenty days for each month of good behavior during detention;
- During the third to the fifth year, inclusive, of his imprisonment, he shall be allowed a deduction of twenty-three days for each month of good behavior during detention;
- During the following years until the tenth year, inclusive, of his imprisonment, he shall be allowed a deduction of twenty-five days for each month of good behavior during detention;
- During the eleventh and successive years of his imprisonment, he shall be allowed a deduction of thirty days for each month of good behavior during detention;
- At any time during the period of imprisonment, he shall be allowed another deduction of fifteen days, in addition to numbers one to four hereof, for each month of study, teaching, or mentoring service time rendered.
An appeal by the accused shall not deprive him of entitlement to the above allowances for good conduct. (Amendments in bold, italicized, and underlined words)
 ART. 98. Special time allowance for loyalty. – A deduction of one fifth of the period of his sentence shall be granted to any prisoner who, having evaded his preventive imprisonment or the service of his sentence under the circumstances mentioned in Article 158 of this Code, gives himself up to the authorities within 48 hours following the issuance of a proclamation announcing the passing away of the calamity or catastrophe referred to in said article. A deduction of two-fifths of the period of his sentence shall be granted in case said prisoner chose to stay in the place of his confinement notwithstanding the existence of a calamity or catastrophe enumerated in Article 158 of this Code.
This Article shall apply to any prisoner whether undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving sentence. (Amendments in bold, italicized, and underlined words)
 ART. 99. Who grants time allowances – Whenever lawfully justified, the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and/or the Warden of a provincial, district, municipal, of city jail shall grant allowances for good conduct. Such allowances once granted shall not be revoked. (Amendments in bold, italicized, and underlined words)