Editor’s Note: The headline was changed from “PUBLIC RECORD: In 2012, 17 senators voted ‘yes’ to bill that could set rapist ex-mayor free” following the Palace statement that ex-mayor Antonio Sanchez is ineligible for early release. The lead paragraph was also revised.

Seventeen senators voted “yes” in 2012 to the bill that could allow inmates to get out of prison on account of time allowances for “good conduct.”

Records of the Senate showed that senators unanimously voted to approve Senate Bill 3064, “An Act Amending Articles 29, 94, 97, 98 and 99 of Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code,” on third reading on Nov. 5, 2012:

  1. Angara, Edgardo J.
  2. Arroyo, Joker P.
  3. Defensor Santiago, Miriam
  4. Drilon, Franklin M.
  5. Ejercito-Estrada, Jinggoy P.
  6. Enrile, Juan Ponce
  7. Escudero, Francis “Chiz” G.
  8. Honasan II, Gregorio B.
  9. Lacson, Panfilo M.
  10. Lapid, Manuel “Lito” M.
  11. Osmena III, Sergio R.
  12. Pangilinan, Francis N.
  13. Pimentel, Aquilino Koko III L.
  14. Recto, Ralph G.
  15. Revilla Jr., Ramon A.
  16. Sotto III, Vicente C.
  17. Trillanes, Antonio “Sonny” F.

Sen. Francis Escudero, then chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, sponsored the bill that consolidated measures authored by himself, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, and nine members of the House of Representatives.

Santiago explained the rationale for the measure in her bill, Senate Bill 2423, filed in 2010.

“This bill advances a dynamic implementation of the good conduct allowance under Article 97, Chapter II of the Revised Penal Code. It unequivocally recognizes as ‘good conduct’ the demonstrated courage, willingness and the ability of a prisoner to increase his knowledge, develop his skills and strengthen his moral values while under detention,” she wrote.

She said the measure would decongest prisons through the grant to prisoners of good conduct time allowance for “participating in literacy, skills and values development programs.”

“A prisoner’s ‘good conduct’ deserves recompense under the law. Life is still worth the living and must go on even if, for prisoners, it is lived temporarily behind bars. Living in ignorance is perpetually living in prison, sans the bars, hence, the premium on educational and character building endeavors. If only for the moral and economic considerations it advocates, this bill deserves our unanimous support and immediate approval,” Santiago wrote.

The same law however provides that “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.”

President Benigno Aquino III signed the bill into law on May 29, 2013. (PressONE.ph)

Thumbnail photo: Senator-judges examine Chief Justice Renato Corona’s bank statements from the Bank of the Philippine Islands Ayala Avenue SGV branch. PHOTO by ALEX NUEVAESPAÑA/PRIB/SENATE POOL. (February 21, 2012).