Dela Rosa wants BuCor Building no. 14 inmates excluded from GCTA grant

Robie de Guzman   •   September 4, 2019   •   521

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to consider disqualifying persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) incarcerated inside Building no. 14 of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in Muntinlupa City from benefitting from the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Dela Rosa made the suggestion to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during the joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human rights and the Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday (Sept. 3).

The senator said inmates confined in Building no. 14 are considered not in good behavior because of their continuous engagement in the illegal drug trade even while in prison.

“Kaya nilagay natin doon para ma-stop ‘yung kanilang ginagawa so, meaning they are not in good conduct behavior habang nasa loob ng building,” he said.

Dela Rosa hopes the DOJ and other concerned agencies will take note of his proposal when they deliberate on the possible amendments to the Implementing Rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 10592, which increase the good conduct time allowance given to qualified prisoners.

“I would suggest to the Secretary of Justice na sana isama niyo dun (sa revised IRR) sir na once nasa loob ka ng building 14, you are not eligible for GCTA… In case ma-approve by this body ‘yung sinasabi ni Senate President (Vicente Sotto III) kanina na we will vote for the recall of the IRR at ibalik sa DOJ at DILG para baguhin in accordance with the spirit na gusto (ng Congress), yung na-envision ng legislators na nag-craft ng law na yan,” he said.

Guevarra, in return, agreed to consider Dela Rosa’s suggestion.

The RA 10592, which was passed in 2013, was intended to decongest the country’s prison cells. It also provides second chances to reformed convicts.

During the recent senate hearing, several senators have said that PDLs convicted of heinous crimes and those who committed grave offenses while in prison do not deserve reduced prison terms.

The GCTA law became controversial after news broke out that convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, could be among thousands of inmates qualified for early release due to good behavior.

This sparked public outrage, prompting several legislators to file bills seeking to amend or repeal the law.  

Bato, Pacquiao support reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 30, 2020

Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Manny Pacquiao reiterated their support for the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes.

During Senate’s regular session on Wednesday (July 29), Pacquiao said reinstating death penalty in the country will not be illegal in the eyes of God.

The Senator previously filed a bill that would impose death penalty on heinous crimes which include manufacturing and trafficking dangerous drugs.

Hindi po labag sa mata ng gobyerno, sa mata ng Panginoon. Dahil biblically po, allowed po ang gobyerno (It is not illegal in the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the Lord. Because, biblically, the government is allowed to do so) the authority, which is established by God to impose heinous crimes especially death penalty,” Pacquiao said.

Meanwhile, during his privilege speech, Dela Rosa reiterated that reimposing death penalty would be the solution in stopping drug lords and the continuing drug activities inside detention facilities.

The Senator also noted that crime rate has dropped when death penalty was imposed in 1993. He also said that the drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic which should also be prioritized.

“It is also considered a global pandemic itong drug problem. So, hindi naman siguro ibig sabihin na porke tayo may kinakaharap na global pandemic na COVID-19, hihinto na lang tayo sa paggawa ng ibang batas para sa ibang mga issues na kinakaharap ng ating lipunan (This drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic. Just because we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean we would stop making laws for other issues faced by society),” he said.

Dela Rosa was appointed as a member of a Senate panel under the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian relinquished his seat.

The said Senate panel will vote on bills including the reimposition of death penalty in the country. However, panel chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the bill should be discussed at the proper time.

“I will not sponsor it because I do not believe in it. We will take it up at the proper time,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

SC suspends transfer of convicted inmates to BuCor due to COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the courts in the country to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment order for the transfer of convicted inmates from detention facilities to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a circular posted on the Supreme Court’s Twitter page, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that all convicted persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from July 29 to August 31, 2020.

This is in line with the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to the Office of the Court Administrator to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BuCor to prevent the further contamination of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

Probe into deaths of Bilibid high-profile inmates due to COVID-19 sought in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said she has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the deaths of nine inmates in the New Bilibid Prison after allegedly testing positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In filing Senate Resolution No. 473, Hontiveros said the deaths of these high-profile inmates must be looked into following questions surrounding their demise.

“It is baffling how COVID-19 was able to wipe out several drug lords with one blow,” she said in a statement.

“For the sake of transparency, they need to be clarified,” she added.

Hontiveros pointed out that previous Senate investigation on the alleged corruption inside BuCor have revealed “schemes in which high-ranking officials of the bureau would dispense favors to rich inmates in exchange for monetary consideration.”

She said these schemes and the immediate disposal of the remains cast a cloud of doubt over the reported deaths of the inmates.

“The lack of reliable information on the deaths of the inmates, the track record of some officials within the BuCor, and the improbability of the fatality rate, creates enough doubt in the mind of a reasonable person on the truthfulness of these deaths,” Hontiveros said,

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier confirmed that a number of inmates, nine of whom were high-profile, in the New Bilibid Prisons have succumbed to COVID-19.

BuCor chief Gerald Bantag, however, said he cannot disclose the names of these individuals pursuant to the Data Privacy Act.

The Department of Justice has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to delve into the issue.

Meanwhile, Hontiveros’ resolution also sought to investigate the health and sanitary conditions in penal institutions “so that the abnormally high number of COVID-19 fatalities might be addressed.”

“By conducting this investigation, we may be able to put an end to speculation and improve our response to the pandemic within our penal institutions,” she added.

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