Gordon says Faeldon not absolved from GCTA fiasco

Robie de Guzman   •   September 20, 2019   •   241

Nicanor Faeldon

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said that sacked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)chief Nicanor Faeldon is not absolved from the controversy on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Gordon made the statement to clarify reports he is allegedly making an effort to steer Faeldon away from the GCTA mess.

The senator said the former BuCor chief remains accountable for being incompetent and negligent.

Gordon said Faeldon admitted his lack of knowledge on a Department of Justice (DOJ) order requiring the approval of the BuCor director general for the release of prisoners with expired sentence, as well as the approval of the Secretary of Justice to freed inmates who are sentenced to life imprisonment.

Faeldon was grilled at the start of the inquiry of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice and Human Rights Committees weeks ago on the questionable application of the GCTA law and the alleged irregularities in the agency relating to its implementation.

Faeldon’s lack of awareness over the DOJ order no. 953, Gordon said, led him to permit the early release of former Calauan mayor, who was convicted of rape and murder.

“Faeldon was not cleared from the corruption in BuCor as what stated on reports, specifically sa mga anomalya sa New Bilibid Prison.

“Naimbestigahan na siya sa Senado at siya’y umamin na hindi niya alam ang tungkol sa department order ng DOJ. Clearly, that is negligence of duty. Kaya nga siya nasibak sa puwesto,” Gordon said.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier said he believes Faeldon should be held liable for the GCTA mess which wrongly released more than 1,900 convicts of heinous crimes.

The issue led to President Rodrigo Duterte’s dismissal of Faeldon and the launching of investigation by the Ombudsman on the alleged anomalies involving BuCor officials.

The controversy also prompted the revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10592 or otherwise known as the GCTA law, which now specifically states who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants.

Some senators divided over Albayalde’s fate in drug recycling mess

Marje Pelayo   •   October 2, 2019

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police General Oscar Albayalde

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is divided about the fate of PNP Chief Police Director Oscar Albayalde amid the controversial drug recycling issue.

Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Senator Richard Gordon said he is not contented with Albayalde’s explanation during Tuesday’s Senate inquiry on the matter.

The senator said the PNP chief should consider quitting his current position even ahead of his retirement in November.

“Kapag hindi niya naipaliwanag iyan, (If he fails to explain it,) he should consider resigning,” Gordon said.

Gordon said they already have prior meetings with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chief (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino including Senator Franklin Drilon prior to the inquiry.

Gordon said Aquino mentioned Albayalde’s alleged meddling in the dismissal of 13 Pampanga policemen or the so-called ninja cops who were under then former Central Luzon Chief Albayalde.

“Nasa harapan ko si Senator Drilon noong sinabi niya yan, na tinawagan siya ni Albayalde para hindi na niya pirmahan ang report,” Gordon said of the conversation which Drilon confirmed.

(Senator Drilon was in front of me when he [Aquino] mentioned that Albayalde called him to stop him from signing the report.)

“Nakiusap na huwag munang i-implement (He [Albayalde] asked [Aquino] not to implement the order) is something in substance that I remember to the narration of General Aquino of his conversation on the telephone with General Albayalde,” the senator said.

Drilon also noticed a change in Aquino’s manner of speaking during the Senate inquiry as compared to how he spoke during their meeting.

But for Senate President Vicente Sotto III, there is nothing to be concerned about Albayalde as PNP chief.

“In the course of his incumbency, wala namang ganoong isyu, (there is no issue like that,)” Sotto said.

“Wala naman tayong masamang tinapay na nakita kay (We have nothing against) Director General Albyalde,” he added.

Albayalde maintains that he did not influence the case involving the said ninja cops though he admitted that he simply asked about the progress of the investigation from Aquino as requested by the families of the 13 cops. – MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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.

Bilibid inmates challenge revised GCTA law IRR before SC

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2019

Members of the Police Special Action Force frisk inmates following 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.  (PHOTOVILLE)

MANILA, Philippines – A group of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) have challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) the legality of the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 10592, which expanded the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

In the filed petition for certiorari and prohibition, the group asked the SC to declare as invalid the recently revised implementing rules, 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 petition which was filed last September 24 is the first known legal challenge against the IRR of the controversial GCTA law.

It listed as respondents Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) chief Allan Sullano Iral.

The DOJ and the DILG last Sept. 16 signed the revised IRR of the Republic Act 10592 after a 10-day review following a controversy relating to its application.

The revised IRR now explicitly excludes recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and convicts of heinous crimes from benefitting from the GCTA law. It also enumerated the cases that are defined as heinous crimes under the law, including treason, bribery, parricide, murder, kidnapping, serious illegal detention and rape, among others.

But the petitioners said the revised implementing rules was issued with grave discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction. They also argue that some of its provisions violate the equal protection clause under the Constitution.

The petitioners also urged the high court to order the BuCor and the BJMP to recompute with reasonable dispatch the time allowances due to petitioners and all those who are in similar situations.

This is to pave for their immediate release from imprisonment after fully serving their sentence, “unless they are being confined for some other lawful cause.”

The petitioner-inmates also want the SC to order the BuCor and BJMP to refrain from retroactively applying the exclusions introduced by the revised IRR which they said are disadvantageous to any prisoners.

The review of the law’s IRR was prompted by public outrage on the possible early release of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted of rape and murder, after his sentence of seven-term reclusion perpetua was shortened by GCTAs.

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.

“Regrettably, all these public outrage and media attention have contributed to the actions undertaken by herein respondents. Ultimately, herein petitioners and those who are similarly situated are the ones who are suffering and are continuing to suffer,” the petitioners said.

Guevarra, in response to the petition, said he cannot issue any comment, saying it is the Office of the Solicitor General who will represent the respondents and submit the proper comment on their behalf.

“All I can say is that I’ve eagerly awaited the filing of this petition. Considering that some important provisions of RA 10592 have been interpreted differently by various groups, I have as much interest as anyone in knowing the correct legal interpretation,” Guevarra said in a statement.

“Only the Supreme Court has the final word on the issue and I hope that it will affirm mine,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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