Duterte orders probe on corruption claims vs Cabinet officials

Robie de Guzman   •   March 26, 2019   •   1471

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 34th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on February 6, 2019. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to probe the current and former members of his Cabinet, especially those who are accused of corruption.

Duterte’s move follows a complaint filed against Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Sandra Cam last week urging the Ombudsman to investigate Cam’s alleged undeclared wealth and properties.

The complaint against Cam came two weeks after Alexander Balutan resigned as PCSO general manager due to corruption allegations.

The President said he himself would file the charges against his Cabinet officials if they are found to have committed illegal acts.

“Unya tinuod pud (Totoo naman). Naa gyuy corruption (na may corruption talaga). And these are all — ako mismo nag-ingon sa Ombudsman, (ako mismo ang nagsabi sa Ombudsman) “Imbestigahan na unya file the charges.” (Imbestigahan and file charges) Sa tanang Cabinet members na akong ma-filean nako’g kaso (sa lahat ng cabinet members na aking masampahan ng kaso),” Duterte said on Sunday night in Cagayan de Oro City where he campaigned for the senatorial candidates of PDP-Laban.

(It’s true, there’s corruption. And these are all — I have told the Ombudsman “Investigate and file charges against my Cabinet members.” I will file the cases myself.)

Duterte made the statement after opposition Senator Leila de Lima urged him to fire Cam for allegedly amassing P500 million in unexplained wealth in 2017 and 2018.

Cam, who was appointed to the PCSO in 2017, is facing raps for supposedly concealing her ownership of a resort and a convention center and parcels of land in Masbate province.

A certain Lino Espinosa Lim Jr. filed the complaint before the Ombudsman last March 21.

The detained lawmaker also called on the President to order an investigation into the accusation against Cam, who she said was involved in pushing prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison to testify in the congressional probe into the drug trading charges against her.

But according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Malacañang will leave it the Ombudsman to delve into the issue and would not duplicate the investigation.

“Somebody has already filed a case in the Ombudsman so that’s the Ombudsman’s call now. Since it’s already with the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman has the power to suspend, I think we will let it do the process,” Panelo said.

Cam, for her part, confirmed in a radio interview on Monday that she was one of the owners of the mentioned properties but belied claims they were worth P500 million.

She explained she did not declare the property in her 2018 financial disclosure because it was not operational at the time. Cam assured to declare it in her 2019 disclosure. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders revamp at BuCor due to corruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the revamp of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Wednesday (September 18) due to alleged corruption.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has confirmed that the president plans to remove all the officials and employees at BuCor.

“It’s total revamp. He’ll remove all of them there,” he said. Panelo explained that BuCor officials and employees will be placed on floating status.

“Because of the corruption there. He [Duterte] wants to stop it,” he added.

BuCor is currently facing corruption allegations after 1,914 heinous crime convicts were released through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

During the Senate hearing, several BuCor officials also admitted other irregularities including the “hospital pass for sale” scheme.

The revamp, Panelo said, would give way for the newly appointed BuCor chief Gerald Quitaleg Bantag to freely select the people he would want to work with in BuCor.—AAC

Duterte wants to speed up release of sickly, aging prisoners

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to speed up the release of sickly and aging prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Duterte specifically wants to fast-track the release of inmates who are 70 years old and above.

“I’ll ask the administration, whoever will take over or the Secretary of Justice to fast-track ‘yung mga may sakit na at talagang matatanda na. Ako mag-set ako, 70 years old or 75, 70,” he told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.

The chief executive pointed out that elderly and sick prisoners within the said age bracket can no longer run nor commit criminal acts. Most of them also do not want to be released anymore.

“Hindi na marunong mag-holdup ‘yan. Hindi na makatakbo ‘yan,” he said.

Duterte made the statement in the wake of the controversy on the early release of heinous crime convicts from the NBP through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

The president earlier set a 15-day deadline for some 1,914 heinous criminals freed due to the GCTA rule to surrender or face re-arrest.

READ: Duterte orders freed heinous crime convicts to surrender

READ: Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Two days before the ultimatum lapses on Sept. 19, Duterte offered a P1 million bounty for each heinous crime convict who failed to comply with the order. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convict released through Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA)law who will fail to surrender to authorities before or on Sept. 19.

Duterte made the announcement two days before his 15-day ultimatum for GCTA-freed convicts to surrender lapses.

“Basta ako sinabi ko, I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive. But maybe dead would be a better option,” the president told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I will pay you smiling. Ibalik ko ‘yan preso, makakain pa ‘yang p***** i**** ‘yan. Gagastos pa ako,” he added.

Last Sept. 4, Duterte ordered convicts who were freed early for good behavior to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police or military camp for the investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

He warned that those who will fail to comply with the order would be treated as fugitives.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 18), a total of 964 GCTA-freed convicts have surrendered to authorities and are now under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) custody, according to the Department of Justice.

This number is more than half of the 1,914 heinous criminals who were released for good behavior under the expanded GCTA rule.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and a Senate inquiry into the issue revealed the alleged modes of corruption in the national penitentiary involving several BuCor employees.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law, which was enacted in 2013 during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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