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

in News/Tabloid PH News
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.” 

2 Cabinet men placed under PACC corruption probe

in News/Tabloid PH News
Cabinet Meeting
image credit: pcoo.gov.ph

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) disclosed on Wednesday (August 14) that it is now investigating two members of President Duterte’s Cabinet based on graft complaints filed against them.

In a news conference, PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said the commission is withholding the identities of the Cabinet secretaries for now so as not to hurt their reputation since the matter is still in the stage of investigation.

He only said they are of Cabinet-rank, meaning they are secretaries of the different departments, or heads of the agencies under the Office of the President.

“There was a complaint filed so we have to investigate…It’s unfair to mention them and make them appear corrupt. Hindi dahil sinampahan ka ng kaso, guilty ka na po (It’s not because a case was filed against you, you are already guilty),” Belgica said. He also did not give the details of the complaints.  

One of the complaints was filed by a private citizen, and the other lodged by an official of the department that the accused secretary heads.

Belgica said the result of the probe will be submitted to President Duterte. Should they find strong evidence against the officials, formal complains could be lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman. 

Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, did not directly say if the President has been informed of the probe already. 

“He (Duterte) doesn’t have to be aware. When the investigation is done, that’s the time he will decide on its recommendation. He doesn’t interfere with the work of the PACC,” Panelo said.

Two of Duterte’s Cabinet officials— Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Manny Pinol, who earlier headed the Department of Agriculture (DA), and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade—had already submitted themselves to voluntary lifestyle checks, Belgica also disclosed on Wednesday. 

Pinol was earlier accused of corruption while he headed the National Food Authority Council, although he was already cleared by the PACC.

PCSO officials placed under NBI, PACC probes

in News/Tabloid PH News
PCSO officials placed under NBI, PACC probes

Manila, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been directed to identify erring officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in conjunction with the lifestyle checks to be conducted by the Presidential Anti-Crime and Corruption Commission (PACC).

According to reports of the Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer, to be covered by the probe are current and former officials of PCSO, including former general manager Alexander Balutan, current chairman Anselmo Pinili, and directors Marlon Balite, Sandra Cam and Ramon Ike Señeres. 

The PACC lifestyle check and NBI probe will not cover newly appointed general manager Royina Garma, who earlier discussed the corruption issues at PCSO with President Duterte, prompting the Chief Executive to suspend all gaming operations of the agency last Friday. On Tuesday, however, Malacanang said lotto operations will continue, as a preliminary probe showed lotto is not prone to corruption.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace also welcomes the congressional inquiries that will be launched by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Garma said foregone revenues from the suspended lotto operations alone already amounted to P250 million. Malacañang, however, gave the go signal to operate once again Lotto 6/42; Mega Lotto 6/45; Super Lotto 6/49; Grand Lotto 6/55; Ultra Lotto 6/ 58; 6-Digit Game; 4-Digit Game; Suertres and EZ2. Still suspended are the small town lotteries, Keno and Peryahan ng Bayan (PNB).

Last year, the PCSO earned P63.56 billion from its gaming operations, with P18.69 billion, or 30 percent, used to fund charity programs, including medical assistance to indigents. Its other revenues go to the national and local governments, as well as certain state agencies.

Sources:  www.philstar.comwww.inquirer.net

Photo Credit: PSCO

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