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Moral integrity is top consideration in choosing Faeldon’s replacement

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Moral integrity is top consideration in choosing Faeldon’s replacement
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Amid the controversies surrounding the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)—from the perennial problem of illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison to the early release of heinous crime convicts that has been on the national spotlight since last month—Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is now putting more emphasis on moral integrity in determining who will replace Nicanor Faeldon as the new head of the agency.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said Guevarra will be looking at moral integrity and sound judgment in his evaluation of the candidates for the BuCor chief. “The most important factor for the Secretary (Guevarra) is integrity issues. That is his yardstick; integrity is very important,” Perete said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Wednesday (September 5).

He said under Republic Act (RA) 10575 (An Act strengthening the Bureau of Corrections), the DOJ secretary is tasked to recommend to the President the candidate for the head of BuCor, which is under the supervision of the DOJ.

Perete said: “We know how very important the position is, especially now, so we are fast-tracking the process.”

In the meantime, Guevarra will designate an officer-in-charge from the current deputy chiefs of the bureau. Perete said the DOJ secretary will make the announcement today.

Faeldon was fired by President Duterte on Tuesday over the early release of heinous crime convicts due to erroneous implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of RA 10592, including three of the seven persons convicted in the rape-slay of the Chiong sisters. 

The Senate convened today the Blue Ribbon and Justice committees for the third of its probe of the GCTA mess. The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission is also conducting its parallel investigation, with end view of filing criminal charges against current and former BuCor officials who had a hand in the early release of close to 2,000 convicts of heinous crimes since 2014.

Duterte said he wants the DOJ and the police to re-arrest these freed convicts if they would not voluntarily surrender to authorities.

Faeldon said he accepts the decision of the President “without any hard feelings”.

“My commander-in-chief/appointing authority has spoken. I am a marine and a marine does as he is told,” Faeldon said in a statement released by his legal team. “I most humbly bow to commander-in-chief’s order without any hard feelings.”

PACC says GCTA law’s ambiguity not an excuse for prison officials, to exclude Dela Rosa in probe

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Image Credit: OFFICIALPAGEofRonaldBatoDelaRosa / FB

President Duterte’s own probing body—the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC)—will not go easy on its investigation into possible administrative and criminal culpabilities of former and current prison officials who had a hand in the early release of heinous crime convicts due to erroneous implementation of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) benefits under Republic Act (RA) 10592.

But the PACC said former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa will not be called by the agency in respect of the Senate, which dela Rosa is now representing.

PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna said the law’s ambiguity or following ongoing practice—now the reasons being used by former and current BuCor officials in approving the release of heinous crime convicts—will not exculpate anyone in their probe.

“They thought that was right because that was the practice. But ignorance of the law excuses no one,” Luna was quoted in a report of ABS-CBA News.

He said the PACC’s target is to submit its findings and the accompanying recommendations to Duterte in less than 60 days. “The circumstances dictate we have to submit our recommendations to President as soon as possible.”

The PACC, under Executive Order (EO) 73 signed by Duterte in December 2018, has the authority to probe government officials and after due investigation recommend the filing of criminal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman or Department of Justice (DOJ).

PACC chief Dante Jimenez, in an interview with the Manila Times, said they are conducting the probe on GCTA “to make those officials at BuCor answerable from 2014-2019 since the start of the releases of convicts on heinous crimes.” 

The Senate is also investigating the early release of prisoners under the GCTA law, but Jimenez said the “Senate hearing is in aid of Legislation only.”

Data showed around 2,000 convicts of heinous crimes have been released under the GCTA provisions since RA 10592 was enacted in 2013, including three of the seven BuCor prisoners who were convicted in the rape-slay of the Chiong sisters. Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez , a convicted killer-rapist sentenced to seven life imprisonment, was almost released, but the public outcry forced the DOJ and the BuCor not to cancel it. 

Luna said current BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon will be placed under the PACC. It will also investigate former BuCor officials, except dela Rosa, because he is now representing the Senate, a co-equal branch of the Executive.

But dela Rosa, Luna said, can also volunteer to be included in the PACC probe.

Luna, however, advises dela Rosa against it, noting “he represents the Senate, and therefore he has to think of the institutional independence of the Senate.” 

Faeldon blames implementing rules of GCTA law in early release of heinous crime convicts

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Faeldon blames implementing rules of GCTA law in early release of heinous crime convicts
Image Credit: Phil News Agency

With senators quizzing him on the early release of heinous crime convicts, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon on Monday (September 2) passed the blame on the implementing rules of Republic Act (RA) 10592 that he said they only followed in reviewing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison.

Faeldon stressed before members of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) RA 10592 issued in 2014 did not disqualify those convicted of heinous crimes.

Image Credit: Philippine News Agency

Faeldon was forced to attend the Senate hearing after he was subpoenaed by the lawmakers to answer queries regarding the implementation of the GCTA provisions, which already led to the early release of more than 20,000 prisoners, with close to 2,000 of them convicted of heinous crimes.

The controversial law and the BuCor have been on the spotlight for two weeks now after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced last August 20 that around 11,000 inmates and prisoners are due for release in the next two months due to the retroactive implementation of the GCTA, including convicted killer-rapist Antonio L. Sanchez.

This immediately drew the ire of the public, until President Duterte himself said Sanchez is not qualified to avail of the GCTA benefits because RA 10592 does not cover those convicted of heinous crimes.

The decision of Duterte, who served as a prosecutor before he became mayor of Davao City, was later affirmed by the Department of Justice. 

Reports, however, surfaced that Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life imprisonment in 1995 for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines – Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993, was indeed about to be freed, with his release order purportedly signed by Faeldon. 

The BuCor chief told the senators that the IRR of RA 10592 mandated them to apply the GCTA provisions to all prisoners.

“All convicted of any crime when they behave well in jail, they were granted GCTA. You will notice that not a single PDL (persons deprived of liberty) has not been denied in whole of GCTA,” Faeldon noted.

Image Credit: Philippine News Agency

The only time a prisoner cannot avail himself of the GCTA benefits, Faeldon added, is on the month he violated prison rules. In the succeeding months, however, when the prisoner behaves, “the granting of GCTA resumes regardless of the gravity of these offenses.”

He added: “Even grave offenses like drugs confiscated inside their cells, they are only penalized for one month. This has been their application [of the law] since 2014 up to this day.”

Guevarra echoed Faeldon’s view, noting that the wordings of the GCTA provisions probably created a confusion in the implementation.

But he said the DOJ is now of the opinion that those convicted of heinous crimes are indeed disqualified from the GCTA benefits.

OPINION: BUCOR’s Chief Faeldon, SUMMONED BY SENATE

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BUCOR's Chief Faeldon, summoned by the Senate

Manila – GCTA  Suspended, Senate step – in to clarify.

Malacañang Palace will go after to some officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) who are responsible for the release of 22 high profile convicted for drug trafficking, kidnapping with ransom, Murder, Rape with murder, carnapping and parricide (including those Chinese, convicted for drug trafficking, fowarded to Immigration for deportation) due to misinterpretation of R.A. 10592 Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

The information published due to uproar of the public after the announcement that convicted for 7 counts for murder and rape, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is possible to be released.

In my personal opinion:

I honestly believe that R.A. 10592 passed by the 15th Congress and signed into law by former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino on May 29, 2013, with a clean conscience and clear mind that objectively, those who will be granted earlier release are only those who are qualified in accordance with the provisions of the said law.

The case of Antonio Sanchez and those who were granted liberty due to GCTA, which is now the subject of Senate Inquiry, scheduled tommorow, wherein the subpoena has been sent to BUCOR Chief Faeldon.

The said Senate Inquiry will enlighten the public, what is/are the provision/s of that law, which seems confussing and disadvantageous to the best interest of Filipino majority. And to what point some Bucor officials has made it more conflicated and/or incomprehensible.

Ironically, the implementation of the GCTA law has been temporarily suspended, a bad news to those PDL (persons deprived of liberty) convicted of minor offense, who are incarcerated to provincial, city and municipal jails, their expectations to be reunited with their loved one are impossible to happen before Christmas Season, having said so, congested jail will be come more problematic.
(Bro.Fred/FM🇵🇭)

https://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2013/ra_10592_2013.html

Sanchez indeed set to be freed based on order purportedly issued by Faeldon

in News/Tabloid PH News
Sanchez indeed set to be freed based on order purportedly issued by Faeldon

A disturbing news reported by GMA News TV said convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez was indeed set to be released from prison based on a memorandum purportedly issued by Nicanor Faeldon, chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

A copy of the document obtained by GMA News TV showed prisoner “Sanchez Leyza Antonio”, the name of the former Calauan, Laguna mayor, was already qualified for release under Republic Act (RA) 10592.

The document said Sanchez “was found to have served 40 years upon retroactive application of RA No. 10592 and was certified to have no other legal cause to be further detained, shall be released from confinement.”

The memorandum was issued on August 20, 2019 and bore the signature of Faeldon. 

The BuCor chief had earlier denied issuing a memorandum ordering Sanchez’ release. He said if such a document indeed existed, it would have been sent to his office already for his approval.

In the report of GMA News TV, the relatives of Sanchez said they have been informed of his release and were already preparing to fetch him at the New Bilibid Prisons.

It was also on August 20 when Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra made the announcement that thousands of prisoners, including Sanchez, were set to be released in the next two months based on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of RA 10592.

This, however, stirred public outcry, with President Duterte himself saying Sanchez is disqualified from availing himself of the GCTA benefits because he was convicted of heinous crimes.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven life imprisonment in 1995 for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines – Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta, as well as the killing of her friend Allan Gomez.

The Department of Justice also confirmed that Sanchez was not eligible for release under RA 10592.

Faeldon has not yet responded to the GMA News TV report as of Saturday (August 31) morning. However, the report also said Faeldon’s signature in the Sanchez release memorandum is different from his signature in another document.

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