MANILA -- Two of three convicts in the Chiong sisters rape-slay case in Cebu have voluntarily surrendered to authorities, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Saturday.
This came after the government's pronouncements that those convicted with heinous crimes are not covered by the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.
"Two PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) in the Chiong case have surrendered. A third (PDL) is expected next week," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
He said Ariel Balansag and Alberto Caño "surrendered to the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) Friday".
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The orders Lacson showed was signed for Faeldon by Corrections Technical Chief Supt. Maria Fe Marquez for the release of Balansag, Caño and Josman Aznar.
The three were among the so-called Chiong Seven, who was found guilty by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 7 in 1999 for the abduction of sisters Jacquelyn and Marijoy Chiong on July 16, 1997.
Marijoy's body was found after thrown into ravine while Jacquelyn's cadaver was never recovered.
Aside from the three, Francisco Juan Larrañaga alias "Paco"; Rowen Adlawan alias "Wesley"; Davidson Ariel Rusia alias "Tisoy Tagalog"; James Anthony Uy alias "Wangwang" and James Andrew Uy alias "MM" were also charged for the crime.
Larrañaga, who was of Spanish descent, was subsequently allowed to continue serving his sentence in Spain under an agreement between the Philippines and Spanish governments on citizens of dual citizenship.
The prosecution largely depended on the testimony of Rusia, who has previous convictions for burglary and forgery and would later turn state witness 10 months after the incident.
Rusia testified that he was with Larrañaga in Cebu on the night of the incident, even as the defense presented 35 witnesses that Paco was in Quezon City in a culinary school class.
The government has halted the release of prisoners under Republic Act 10592 or the GCTA Law following reports that some ineligible prisoners had been granted relief under its provisions.
President Rodrigo Duterte has given those erroneously released 15 days to voluntarily surrender to authorities. (PNA)