Enrile wants De Lima, Roxas perpetually barred from public office for GCTA mess

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019   •   632

Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday said that detained Senator Leila de Lima and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas should be perpetually barred from seeking public office for the alleged confusion created by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they crafted for the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Enrile blamed De Lima and Roxas for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office,” the former lawmaker said when asked by reporters at the Senate about the possible liability of De Lima and Roxas over the mess.

The former senator said the Republic Act 10592, which expanded the GCTA given to inmates, clearly states that convicts involved in heinous crimes are among those excluded from availing of the early release rule based on good conduct credits.

Enrile said the IRR crafted by De Lima and Roxas, which supposedly added heinous crime convicts as GCTA beneficiaries, was “unconstitutional and void ab initio (from the beginning).”

Enrile was the Senate president when the GCTA law was approved in 2013.

“Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided by what they did,” he said.

The 95-year old former lawmaker said heinous convicts wrongly released under the GCTA law who continue to refuse to surrender to authorities could now be hunted since they are not supposed to be released in the first place.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier set a 15-day deadline for these convicts to surrender for investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

The ultimatum, which Duterte issued on Sept. 4, will lapse on Sept. 19 (Thursday).

The president earlier warned GCTA-freed heinous criminals who remain at large will be treated as fugitives from justice if they failed to comply with the order. He also pushed through with his plan to offer P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convicts.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier asked De Lima and Roxas to explain or clarify in writing the implementing rules they drafted for the law as part of their ongoing investigation on the matter.

But De Lima said the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction or authority over her as a sitting senator, citing Section 21 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989.

She also said she has no official capacity to reply to the Ombudsman’s query on the GCTA issue as she is no longer the Secretary of Justice.

“[I] would like to clarify that I am no longer the Secretary of Justice. I am now a Senator of the Republic. I cannot in my official capacity as a Senator reply to a query that exclusively pertains to official business of the Department of Justice whose present Secretary is Menardo Guevarra,” De Lima said in a statement.

READ: De Lima says Ombudsman request for explanation on GCTA rules ‘highly irregular’

Guevarra, however, refused to blame any body about the mess, saying they already revised the law’s implementing rules to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants.

“We at the DOJ won’t dwell on things that had come to pass, much less waste our time on an unproductive blame game. The revised IRR reflects our best interpretation of RA 10592 as it was actually crafted, finalized, and signed,” he said in a statement. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Casin)

Muntinlupa Police creates task group to investigate Santos slay case

Maris Federez   •   February 20, 2020

MUNTINLUPA CITY, Philippines — The Muntinlupa City Police has created a special investigation task group to focus on the killing of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) legal officer Atty. Frederick Anthony Santos.

The police said neither the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) installed in the vicinity of the crime scene nor the dashcam of Santos’ vehicle was able to capture the shooting incident that took the life of the official.

Muntinlupa City Police chief PCol. Hermogenes Duque Cabe, however, said they can still check on all the CCTV in the possible route that the suspects took in fleeing the crime scene.
 
“Ongoing ang investigation pa rin hanggang ngayon,” Cabe said.

Based on the autopsy, Santos sustained two gunshots in the head, one on his neck, and three on his left arm.

Witnesses said the suspects left the crime scene on a motorcycle.

The Department of Justice, on the other hand, has earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation on the killing of the suspended BuCor official.

The DOJ doesn’t discount the possibility that the shooting is connected with the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) controversy at the agency.

Santos was supposed to return to work on March 12 after the six-month suspension meted out on him by the Office of the Ombudsman due to anomalous implementation of the GCTA.

Meanwhile, Senator Ronald dela Rosa believes that the drug lords in the New Bilibid Prisons are behind the killing of Atty. Santos.

“’yung nagpapatay dyan sa mga tao natin sa BuCor, yan din yung mga nakakulong na drug lord dyan na kumbaga hindi nasunod yung kanilang kagustuhan. Marami pa yang pera at galamay sa labas na pwede kang ipapatay. Tinatakot nga ang mga judge, mga piskal,” dela Rosa said. —(from the report of Correspondent Sherwin Culubong) /mbmf

Manhunt launched vs. assailants of BuCor top lawyer in GCTA controversy

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are now investigating the motive behind the killing of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Legal Service Department chief, Atty. Fredric Anthony Santos on Wednesday (February 19).

Santos was shot by two still unidentified gunmen in front of his daughter’s school near the New Bilibid Prison as he was supposed to pick her up.

Witnesses said the suspects immediately left the crime scene onboard a motorcycle after the incident.

Santos became controversial after appearing in a Senate inquiry as a witness in the alleged ‘freedom for sale’ inside the BuCor in connection with the inmates’ Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

The BuCor official sustained gunshot wounds in the head and died on the spot, according to the responding rescue team from Muntinlupa City.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday (February 20) ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation on the killing of Santos.

The SOJ also ordered a case build-up and eventually charge those who are behind the murder.

Secretary Guevarra believes that the killing of Santos is likely linked to his role in the GCTA investigation.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCPO) Chief PDG Debold Sinas, meanwhile, assured the safety of Santos’ family following his death.

“We have coordinated with BuCor for the security of the Family na nakatira doon sa BuCor Compound,” he said.

Santos was suspended in September last year by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for allegedly allowing the questionable release of prison convicts.

Following Santos‘ death, Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed that he was informed that the BuCor official promised Senator Panfilo Lacson that he (Santos) will divulge everything he knew about the irregularities in the granting of GCTA privileges inside the New Bilibid Prison. – MNP (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

DILG welcomes petition questioning legality of revised GCTA guidelines

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2019

Inmates listen during a peace accord event to stop violence amongst gangs inside the New ‘Bilibid’ Prison’s maximum security compound in Muntinlupa city, south of Manila, Philippines, 27 December 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has welcomed the petition filed before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10592 which increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they are ready to defend their position, adding that the department along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) worked hard to promulgate the revised guidelines to “clarify the ambiguous provisions of the GCTA law that have led to past abuse in its implementation.”

“The revised IRR addresses the many inadequacies of the old IRR that were abused and taken advantage of by corrupt correctional officials,” Malaya said in a statement.

“We will be working closely with our statutory counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the DOJ in vigorously defending the new IRR before the Supreme Court,” he added.

The DILG official also stressed that the law gave the DOJ and the DILG the authority and responsibility to craft the IRR.

Officers from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) who have the “necessary experience and technical expertise on the matter” helped in the crafting of the guidelines.

“The new IRR is one crucial step in the reform of the BuCor,” Malaya said.

A group of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) earlier filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the revised IRR of the GCTA law, particularly the provision disqualifying convicts of heinous crimes from availing of time allowance for good conduct, loyalty, study, teaching and mentoring for “going beyond the law and for being tantamount to executive legislation.

The petitioners also urged the high court to order the BuCor and the BJMP to refrain from retroactively applying the exclusions introduced by the revised IRR which they said are disadvantageous to any prisoners.

“While we are confident of our legal position, the final arbiter will be the highest court of the land whose decision we shall honor and respect,” Malaya concluded.

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