DOJ awaits formal order on probe into P60-M DOT-PTV4 ad deal
UNTV News • June 6, 2019 • 1530
The Department of Justice is waiting for an official directive from Malacañang concerning the controversial P60-million deal between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and government-run TV station, PTV 4 in 2017.
In a text message, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed that the Office of the Ombudsman is already investigating the matter. He added that the DOJ is “ready to help” in the probe.
“I’m verifying directly with Sec. Panelo, just waiting for his reply,” Guevarra’s message reads.
It will be recalled that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced yesterday that the DOJ will take steps to recover the P60-million in ad placement fees that the DOT paid to broadcaster Ben Tulfo’s Bitag Media two years ago. Bitag is a blocktimer at PTV-4 and is owned by Ben Tulfo.
The deal was awarded to Bitag’s show, Kilos Pronto, which is hosted by the Tulfo brothers.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat wants to return the P60-M to the Commission on Audit.
This controversy resulted in the resignation of then DOT Secretary Wanda Teo who is the sister of the Tulfo brothers.
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday designated a Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) official to act as the agency’s Officer-in-Charge following the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon over the controversial release of convicts due to good behavior.
In Department Order No. 468, Guevarra named Assistant Secretary and Deputy Director General for Security and Operations Melvin Ramon Buenafe as BuCor’s interim head.
Aside from administering the day-to-day affairs of the agency, he also authorized Buenafe to “effect permissible movements of BuCor personnel, to adopt strict measures to ensure integrity and proper safekeeping of official records, particularly records of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) and other similar time credits.”
The DOJ chief also empowered Buenafe to take appropriate steps for the formal revocation of release orders “improvidently” issued, and for the re-commitment of prisoners “erroneously” released from prison.
Guevarra said the order is pursuant to the directives issued by President Rodrigo Duterte during his press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Buenafe will assume the post amid allegations of “GCTA for sale” at the New Bilibid Prisons involving some BuCor employees.
Likewise, a committee was created to keep close administrative supervision over the Bureau pending appointment of a new BuCor chief by President Rodrigo Duterte.
This panel will be headed by DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco, with Assistant Secretaries Neal Bainto and George Ortha II.
The DOJ chief said the order is effective immediately and shall remain in force until further notice.
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said that not more than 10 convicts freed for good behavior have surrendered to authorities after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a 15-day deadline for them Wednesday night.
Guevarra revealed this during the resumption of the Senate committee on justice’s inquiry on Thursday into the questionable application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law and early release of heinous crimes convicts.
“I have just been informed a few minutes ago, confidentially meron, but we cannot mention their names,” Guevarra said in response to the query of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
“Not more than 10,” he added.
Lacson called this “a good indication” and “a good development.”
The surrender of freed convicts came after Duterte on Wednesday night ordered the re-arrest of the 1,914 prisoners released under the GCTA law.
The president urged them to show themselves and submit for investigation to recompute their good conduct credits within 15 days.
“All of you, released under GCTA, you surrender or have yourself registered under BuCor (Bureau of Corrections),” Duterte said.
If they fail to show up within the deadline, they will be treated as fugitives from justice and will face re-arrest.
Justice Secretary Guevarra also said they are planning to put the freed heinous crimes convicts on the immigration lookout.
“We got the list of those persons deprived of liberty who were convicted of heinous crimes but were prematurely released on account of good conduct time allowance and we have forwarded it to the Bureau of Immigration for appropriate action, more particularly for the issuance of the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO),” Guevarra said.
An ILBO cannot stop subjects from leaving the country but will only set up a mechanism to alert the government when these people attempt to leave the country.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to temporarily suspend the processing of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).
Guevarra gave the order on Tuesday (Aug 27) “as a precautionary measure and in the interest of prudence.”
The Justice Department will also review the names of the inmates who were released through the GCTA.
“Should there be any sign of fraud or irregularity, I will order a separate probe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has already expressed concern on the negative effects of the GCTA. In a statement, the senator said that convicted criminals have the capacity to fake their good actions.
“All a dangerous criminal has to do is to pretend to be very nice for a decade and then applies for the program and he is released from his predicament only to get back at those who filed and testified against him,” he said.
The senator is currently drafting a bill to amend the Republic Act No. 10592 for inmates convicted of heinous crime to no longer be eligible for GCTA.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez, Grace Casin)
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