PACC to probe Bucor Chief, officials on anomaly in GCTA implementation

Maris Federez   •   September 3, 2019   •   706

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is set to investigate the Bureau of Corrections Director-General Nicanor Faeldon and other officials of the agency amid the controversial implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said they will start reviewing the Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance law to determine if there were any loopholes.

They will particularly look at how the Bucor implemented the said law and if the ones who effected the release of the prisoners were qualified under the law.

“We will conduct an investigation based on that. Was the law violated? Were there corruption involved? Mga allegations ng pagbebenta ng Kalayaan [Allegations of freedom for sale],” Belgica said.

Data from the Bucor said more than 2,000 heinous crime convicts were freed by virtue of the GCTA law since 2014.

The PACC head, however, said heinous crime convicts must not be eligible in the application of the law.

“Ang heinous crimes, penalized by death ‘yan eh. Kaso lang lifted ang death penalty ngayon. So meaning, if hindi lifted ang death penalty, then, patay na dapat ‘yung convicted for heinous crime. So, hindi na siya magka-qualify sa GCTA [Heinous crimes are penalized by death. However, the death penalty is now lifted. So meaning, if only the death penalty were not lifted, those convicted of heinous crimes will be dead by now. Meaning, these individuals will no longer be qualified to avail of the CGTA (benefit)],” Belgica added.

He also maintained that their investigation will be in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.

He added that the President also plans to launch his own investigation on the case.

In case the Bucor officials will be found guilty, they will face administrative charges or be removed from their posts, depending on what the President will decide upon.

They might also face criminal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.

To date, the commission said it will keep track on the Senate hearing on the said controversy as they see that it will be a big help on their own investigation. (with details from Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

89 Punong Barangays nationwide suspended over SAP Tranche 1 anomalies — DILG

Maris Federez   •   September 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has placed some 89 Punong Barangays (village chiefs) across the country on a six-month preventive suspension following the filing of complaints by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) against them for anomalies and irregularities involving the implementation of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

A statement released on Saturday (Sept. 12) said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has given out directives to the respective municipal/city mayors of these barangay heads “to immediately implement the order of the Office of the Ombudsman upon receipt while the DILG regional and field officers were directed to ensure the orderly implementation of the said mass suspension.”

Año thanked Ombudsman Samuel Martires for his immediate action on the complaints filed by the Department against the erring PBs.

The statement added that the suspension would serve as a stern warning to all local government units that the Department will not tolerate any wrong-doing on their part.

“Naway magsilbing babala ang suspensiyon na ito sa iba pang mga lokal na opisyales. Ang katiwalian ay walang puwang sa ating pamahalaan lalong-lalo pa ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Año said.  

DILG cited the OMB Order dated September 2, 2020, which said that “the evidence on record shows that the guilt of these punong barangays is strong and the charges against them involve Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service which may warrant removal from the service.”

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the suspension of the 89 Punong Barangays is “the first such mass suspension in the history of the country.”

He added that such “is just the latest in a series of moves undertaken by the DILG to weed out corrupt officials in the implementation of the SAP.”

In relation to this, Malaya said that the PNP-CIDG has already filed criminal cases against 447 individuals for violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan Act I), and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees), among others.

The DILG also reported that Region I, the National Capital Region, and Region II topped the list of with the most number of suspended PBs, while Cordillera Administrative Region and Caraga recorded the least number. Only Region XII has no suspended PBs among all regions. — /mbmf

Roque questions court order to release Pemberton

Robie de Guzman   •   September 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has questioned a local court’s decision to grant the appeal of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for an early release through good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits.

Roque, who was the former private legal counsel of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude’s family, said the Bureau of Corrections, which has the authority to grant GCTA credits, did not recommend any allowance for good conduct for Pemberton.

“Yung ginawa po ni Judge na siya na ang nagdesisyon kung paano siya bibigyan ng credit for good conduct is an instance of judicial overreach,” he said.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in an order dated September 1 said Pemberton should be released over good behavior.

Pemberton was sentenced six to 10 years in prison for homicide over the slay of Laude at a motel in Olongapo City in 2014. He has been held at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo pursuant to provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

The court credited to him a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than 4 years plus a total of 2,142 days in detention which amounts to more than 10 years of the maximum penalty imposed on him.

The Palace official said that the court’s decision on Pemberton’s release is unjust.

“Very bad po, kasi parang pinapakita na di mahalaga ang buhay ng Pilipino. 5 taon lang sa ginuntuang hawla ang pwedeng maging parusa. Huwag naman po,” he said.

He also denied the claim of Pemberton’s lawyer that he and Laude’s family agreed to release the convicted American soldier on parole.

Roque added that the motion for reconsideration filed by Laude’s family should be resolved first, as well as the appeal that will be lodged by the government’s prosecutors.

The Department of Justice said it has directed the Bureau of Corrections to wait for the court’s resolution on the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Pemberton to remain in detention pending appeal resolution – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, will not be released from detention yet pending a court’s resolution on the appeal filed by the victim’s family, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

 The DOJ said it has directed the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to wait for the court’s decision on the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration.

“The MR would have to be resolved first. The BuCor cannot preempt court action on the MR by prematurely releasing Pemberton,” DOJ Spokesperson Markk Perete said in a message.

The BuCor, for its part, said it will heed the DOJ’s directive and respect the court process. It also assured that Pemberton will remain detained at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo.

The Laude family, through their counsel Virgie Suarez filed a motion for reconsideration on Wednesday, arguing that Pemberton should not be granted an early release sans proof of his good behavior or participation in rehabilitation programs in jail.

“Simple ang mga ibigay lang nila sa korte ay mga computation I mean what can you see from the computation? Computation is just a computation it should not be taken ay yun na yun that computation is equated with the good conducts dapat may mga records,” she said.

Suarez also stressed in her appeal that Pemberton has been serving sentence “solo” in Camp Aguinaldo and no one can attest about his alleged good conduct.

  “What constitutes good conduct? Ano ba ang mga ginawa nito para sabihin mo mayroong good conduct? The court could easily scrutinize that but the court did not,” she said.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in an order dated September 1 said Pemberton should be released over good behavior.

In 2014, Pemberton was sentenced six to 10 years in prison for homicide over the slay of Laude at a motel in Olongapo City. He has been held at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

The court credited to him a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than 4 years plus a total of 2,142 days in detention which amounts to more than 10 years of the maximum penalty imposed on him.

The court is set to hear the Laude family’s appeal on Monday, Sept. 7. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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