MALACANANG on Friday said former inmates who were convicted of heinous crimes and subsequently released for good conduct should be sent back to jail.

“That cannot be done because the law is very clear. Republic Act 10592 (or the “Good Conduct Time Allowance” law) is very clear that those charged and convicted of heinous crimes, escapees, habitual delinquents and recidivists are not covered by the law,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a televised press briefing from Beijing on Friday afternoon.

Data from the Bureau of Corrections released last Thursday showed that of the 22,049 inmates released for good conduct since 2013, 1,914 had been convicted of heinous crimes.

“Obviously dapat makabalik sila sa kulungan (they should go back to jail) until they served the full term of their service,” Mr. Panelo added.

Malacañang’s pronouncement comes amid an uproar over the news that former Calauan Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez, a convicted rapist and murderer, was scheduled to be released from prison for what prison officials earlier described as his good conduct.

Mr. Panelo, who lawyered for the ex-mayor in the 1993 rape-slay case, earlier denied that he had anything to do with Sanchez’ planned release.

Several senators, including Senator Franklin M. Drilon opposed Mr. Sanchez’ release and said they would investigate it. Mr. Drilon was the Justice secretary who prosecuted Mr. Sanchez, who in 1995 was sentenced to seven life terms for the rape and murder of two University of the Philippines students in 1993. — Arjay L. Balinbin