SC clarifies order to release Ex-Mayor Sanchez didn’t come from them

Maris Federez   •   August 23, 2019   •   415

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has clarified that the order to release former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez from prison did not emanate from them.

Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Bryan Keith Hosaka said the high court only issued its interpretation of Republic Act 10592 which increased the good conduct time allowance given to prisoners.

The high court ruled that the said law can be applied retroactively, which would include the case of the former mayor.

“First the Supreme Court did not order the release of Mayor Sanchez in its recent decision in the consolidated cases.  Like all laws, the implementation and execution of RA10952 is left for the executive branch of government, again, the judiciary or the supreme court only interpreted RA10952 and ruled that it can be applied retroactively,” Hosaka said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said that they have asked the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to draft clearer guidelines as to who can benefit the credit time allowances to inmates.

Guevarra added that it will be very timely for Congress to scrutinize the implementation of the said law.

 “We have requested the Bucor through Faeldon be very clear about the guidelines kasi mukhang di pa maayos na maayos ang mga guidelines diyan [because it seems that the guidelines are not yet clearly defined]. So, this is an opportunity for the Bucor to make clear mga [the] guidelines,” said Guevarra.

Meanwhile, a group of women on Friday staged a protest in front of the Department of Justice against the impending release of Mayor Sanchez who was convicted for a rape and murder of two UP Los Baños students.

Lisa Maza, leader of Gabriela Alliance of Women said, “Ito ay isang pagsalaula sa ating justice system. Malinaw po na marami din siyang paglabag na ginawa noong siya ay nasa kulungan kaya hindi siya karapat dapat na lumaya [This is a derision to our justice system. It is very clear that he had committed a lot of violations while serving time in prison that is why he doesn’t deserve to be set free].” (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Roxas tells Enrile: Public office ban is for those facing plunder charges

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday twitted former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, saying those accused of plunder or stealing from government coffers should be the ones banned from seeking or holding public office.

“Ahem. Yung dapat barred from public service at makulong, yung may kaso ng plunder,” Roxas said in a Twitter post.

Roxas’ remark was an apparent response to Enrile’s statement that Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima should be “disqualified forever from holding public office” for the mess brought about by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they drafted for the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

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

Enrile earlier blamed Roxas and De Lima, then Justice Secretary, for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts since its enactment in 2013.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office. Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided of what they did,” Enrile said in a media interview at the Senate on Wednesday.

The former lawmaker said the law 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).”

But according to Roxas, the IRR faithfully reflects the RA 10592 and the Revised Penal Code, stressing that each provision corresponds to specific parts and paragraphs of the statute particularly on exclusion of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

“Allegations that the IRR has strayed from the law on which it is based are unquestionably unfounded,” Roxas explained in a letter responding to the Ombudsman’s request on the matter.

Roxas cited Rule 4, Section 6 of the law’s IRR on provisional release while under preventive imprisonment, which states that: “Whenever an accused has undergone preventive imprisonment for a period equal to the imposable maximum imprisonment of the offense charged to which he may be sentenced and his case is not yet decided, he shall be released immediately without prejudice to the continuation of the trial thereof or the proceeding on appeal, if the same is under review, except for the following: ‘recidivist, habitual delinquent, escapee, person charged with heinous crimes’.”

Enrile, 95, is facing a P172-million plunder charge before the Anti-Graft court in relation to the P10 billion pork barrel scam which involved businesswoman Janet Napoles and other public officials.

He is currently out of prison after the Supreme Court granted him temporary liberty in 2015 for humanitarian reasons.  

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)

SC affirms Sandiganbayan’s decision to convict Sabio for graft

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2019

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s decision to convict former Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) Chair Camilo L. Sabio for violations of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This was after Sabio filed a petition for review on certiorari to question his conviction by the Sandiganbayan. Sabio has claimed immunity from suit for being the president’s alter ego.

The SC has ruled that immunity from suit does not cover presidential alter egos as they junked the petition of Sabio.

“As correctly ruled by the Sandiganbayan, Sabio’s acts unmistakably reflect ‘a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will,” the SC said.

In a 10-page decision promulgated on July 15, 2019, the SC said Sabio cannot claim immunity from suit by being the president’s alter ego.

“It was the PCGG, through Sabio and his Commissioners, not the President, who entered into the subject lease agreements without the requisite public bidding,” the decision states.

“The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser,” the decision added.

The graft case filed against Sabio stemmed from the lease of 11 motor vehicles entered into by the PCGG without the required competitive bidding.—AAC

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