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.”