DOJ orders NBI to probe slay of suspended BuCor exec
Robie de Guzman • February 20, 2020 • 679
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the killing of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) legal division chief Atty. Frederic Anthony Santos.
In a directive issued on Wednesday, February 19, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered and granted authority to NBI director Dante Gierran to conduct an investigation and case build-up against those behind the murder.
Santos was shot dead on Wednesday afternoon by unidentified gunmen while waiting to pick up his child in front of a school in Muntinlupa City, just a few meters away from the gate of the New Bilibid Prison.
He died instantly after sustaining gunshot wounds to head, neck and left arm based on an autopsy conducted by authorities.
Guevarra also ordered the NBI to file appropriate charges against persons found responsible for the crime if evidence warrants.
He also directed Gierran to submit to his office reports on the progress of the subject investigation and case build-up within 30 days.
In a separate statement, the DOJ chief said that Santos’ fatal shooting is still under investigation but is “very likely” connected to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) issue.
Santos was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman last September 2019 in relation to the alleged misapplication of the GCTA law and other time credits to prisoners.
He was supposed to return to work in March after serving six months of suspension.
Santos was among the resource persons in a Senate Investigation into the GCTA mess.
Irregularities in the GCTA law application grabbed headlines following reports on the possible early release of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and her companion, Allan Sanchez in 1993 after his sentence of 7-term Reclusion Perpetua was shortened.
The issue led to the revelations of the release of some heinous crime convicts and the anomalies in the BuCor. It also led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as BuCor chief, and President Duterte to set a deadline for the surrender of nearly 2,000 GCTA-freed convicts or be hunted down by police.
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.
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday expressed hope that the Supreme Court will resolve the questions on the legality of Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 based on the merits, and not the number and personalities behind lawsuits.
“All these petitions, no matter how many they are, will boil down to a common set of constitutional issues. The Supreme Court will resolve these issues on the merits of the arguments advanced by the parties concerned, and not on the basis of their number or personal or professional stature,” Guevarra said.
At least 16 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against the controversial measure which came into effect this month.
Among those who questioned the validity of the law were law professors and former officials of the Executive branch and retired Supreme Court Justices.
The petitioners questioned the vague and broad provisions of the law that may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.
Petitioners also urged the high court to declare the entire law unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains that the law is being fairly implemented and uniformly enforced on all quarantine violators.
This was in response to critics accusing the agency of favoring personalities such as Senator Koko Pimentel who visited Makati Medical Center in March despite being positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), thereby exposing hospital staff and other patients to infection.
Another controversial violation was the gathering of staffers during the birthday party of National Capital Region (NCR) Police Office Chief Debold Sinas where a number of violations were identified.
But up to now, Sinas remains in position.
In comparison to their cases, local government units (LGUs) have been more strict when it comes to apprehending ordinary residents over protocol violations.
To date, over 200,000 quarantine violators have bee arrested, some even detained by authorities.
In defense, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra denied any inconsistencies or variation in the implementation of the law whether against people of status or ordinary residents.
“I wouldn’t really say that there is an inconsistent application of the rule of law it just so happened that a greater number of those arrested came from the lower income groups,” Guevarra said.
“And that’s simply because they are the ones who were caught on the streets and for that reason since they have been found or at the time of their arrest were found to be violating certain quarantine rules and regulations kaya sila marami ,” he added.
In fact, Guevarra said, authorities are now investigating the incidents involving Pimentel and Sinas. He added that charges have been filed against several policemen who themselves violated quarantine protocols.
“So it’s really a matter of perception but kasi greater number yung mga tao na masasabi na nasa lower income level yung tinatawag nating mga mahihirap na nahuhuli sa mga violations,” the Justice Secretary said.
“But it doesn’t mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law. We apply this as uniformly as possible,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)
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