With P3,000 in his pocket, rape convict Melchor Jumamil was giddy like a little boy as he stepped out of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa after 32 years.
Since it was Good Friday that morning on April 19, he went to church to thank the Lord that he was finally released for good behavior.
But his freedom was short-lived.
Jumamil, now 55, was attending to his farm in Cortes town in Bohol on Sept. 5 when he was told by siblings that President Duterte ordered the convicts released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance law to surrender within 15 days or face the possibility of being shot by authorities as fugitives.
He was crestfallen.
“Why would they want me to go back to BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) when I already served more than my 32 years,” he said.
But the fear for his safety prompted him to comply with the President’s directives.
A total of seven convicts had turned themselves in Bohol, according to the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO).
Jumamil was 21 and a sophomore high school student at the then Bohol School of Arts and Trade when he and eight others were accused of raping a neighbor.
But only he and Reynaldo Mercado, who was then 19, were arrested.
While both claimed they were innocent of the crime, they were later convicted and were sentenced to life imprisonment for rape with abduction.
Jumamil was sent to the the Bilibid prisons while Mercado was served his term at the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog town, Southern Leyte.
Mercado, however, was released earlier, on Dec. 18, 2018, under the GCTA law. Jumamil followed four months later in April.
Jumamil said he immediately took a boat ticket to Cebu upon his release on April 19. From Cebu, he took a fast craft back to his home-province which he had not seen for 32 years.
He was overjoyed to finally come home but at same time, amazed by how different Bohol was 32 years ago.
There were tall buildings at the capital city of Tagbilaran and the houses had mushroomed.
He was pleasantly surprised that the road to his hometown in Cortes, about 10 km from Tagbilaran, had been paved when it used to be littered with potholes.
“It changed a lot..I am no longer familiar with the place,” he said in a local dialect.
He even got lost while looking for their house in Barangay Upper de la Paz.
His eldest brother, Felix, answered the knock on the door.
Although surprised by the unannounced arrival of his brother, Felix gently hugged him and cried.
All his four siblings were happy that he was finally home.
Jumamil was sad when he learned that he had to go back to jail.
He and Mercado decided to surrender at the Cortes police station out of fear that they might be killed.
Mercado said he would have wanted to start a new life after spending many years in jail.
He wanted to work to help his siblings, nieces and nephews.
Another convict Marcial Auguis, 69, arrived in Bohol on Sept. 6 only to be told by his nephews and nieces three days later that he had to back to jail on President’s order.
“I only spent a few days with my family and now they wanted me to go back. I don’t want to go back because life there was miserable,” he said.
Auguis was released from the New Bilibid Prison last Aug. 19 after spending nine years in jail for killing a relative.
He first visited his grandson in Cavite before deciding to go home in Barangay Villa Milagrosa in the island-municipality of President Carlos P. Garcia in Bohol.
Auguis was so happy to have come home but didn’t expect to see the new Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
When told that he had to go back to jail, Auguis couldn’t help but feel sad especially that he had just come home.
Like Auguis, Nemesio Bacalso, 66, didn’t also want to go back to jail but had no choice.
“I only have a few years left to live. I just want to enjoy the remaining years of my life,” he added.
Bacalso was in his 30s when he was sent to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan for forcible abduction with rape.
After spending 30 years in jail, he was released last February 8 for good behavior under the GCTA.
When he returned to Bohol, Bacalso recalled he didn’t know his way around Tagbilaran since he was gone for at least 30 years.
The only sign he was home was the Chocolate hills.
He never realized that his freedom was temporary.
Bacalso was shocked when told by his neighbors about the President’s order. For him, he had served more than enough number of years.
The convicts, however, hoped that they would be properly released, saying they merely caught up in the mess at the BuCor.
All of them said they surrendered for their security and to make clear they did not pay anyone for their release.
“Kung gusto nila ibalik sa Correction walay problema na. Di ako parolado, wala kaming binayaran na ano. Paano kami magbayad na wala kaming ikabayad dahil pobre kami,” said Jumamil.
Mercado said he wanted to start a new life after spending many years in jail. He wanted to work to help his siblings, nieces and nephews.
And their families too were praying that the next time these convicts stepped out of jail, their freedom would be lasting.
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