SOJ Guevarra designates Buenafe as BuCor interim head

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2019   •   1682

Deputy Director General Melvin Ramon G. Buenafe

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday designated a Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) official to act as the agency’s Officer-in-Charge following the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon over the controversial release of convicts due to good behavior.

In Department Order No. 468, Guevarra named Assistant Secretary and Deputy Director General for Security and Operations Melvin Ramon Buenafe as BuCor’s interim head.  

Aside from administering the day-to-day affairs of the agency, he also authorized Buenafe to “effect permissible movements of BuCor personnel, to adopt strict measures to ensure integrity and proper safekeeping of official records, particularly records of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) and other similar time credits.”

The DOJ chief also empowered Buenafe to take appropriate steps for the formal revocation of release orders “improvidently” issued, and for the re-commitment of prisoners “erroneously” released from prison.

Guevarra said the order is pursuant to the directives issued by President Rodrigo Duterte during his press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Buenafe will assume the post amid allegations of “GCTA for sale” at the New Bilibid Prisons involving some BuCor employees.

Likewise, a committee was created to keep close administrative supervision over the Bureau pending appointment of a new BuCor chief by President Rodrigo Duterte.

This panel will be headed by DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco, with Assistant Secretaries Neal Bainto and George Ortha II.

The DOJ chief said the order is effective immediately and shall remain in force until further notice.

DOJ orders NBI to probe PNP-PDEA ‘misencounter’

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own probe into the shooting incident that transpired between members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Wednesday night.

The shooting incident between operatives of the PNP and PDEA occurred near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

“This is separate and distinct from the probe to be conducted by an ad hoc joint PNP-PDEA board of inquiry earlier announced by PNP chief Debold Sinas,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I gave them (NBI) 10 days to submit a report,” he added.

Sinas earlier said that a joint PNP-PDEA Board of Inquiry has been created to determine what transpired and who should be held liable for the incident.

The PNP chief appointed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as the lead investigating body, while the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has been designated “to speak on any updates from the PNP in order to keep the public updated with accurate and relevant information.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Up to NBI to include Mon Tulfo in probe on use of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine, DOJ says

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will leave it to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to decide on whether to include special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo in its ongoing probe on the alleged illegal inoculations of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

Tulfo earlier admitted that he was administered last year with Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, which is still unregistered in the Philippines.

“I do not dictate upon the NBI as to how it should conduct its investigation. I will leave it to the NBI to determine if it’s necessary or relevant to invite Ramon Tulfo to shed light on the matter,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters on Wednesday, February 24.

Guevarra earlier directed the NBI to conduct a probe into the alleged importation, entry, sale, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines that are not authorized by or registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

He also ordered the agency “to file appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act” in connection with the matter.

According to the DOJ chief, the NBI has yet to submit a report about its investigation.

“I have no info on whether the NBI has in fact completed its probe; that’s why I’m asking for a progress report,” he said.

Guevarra earlier said that a private person who voluntarily agrees to be inoculated with an unregistered vaccine is answerable only to himself.

But a higher sense of ethical responsibility is demanded of a public officer who is expected not only to follow but also to uphold the law, he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

High-profile inmate Raymond Dominguez found dead in Bilibid cell – BuCor

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Convicted carjacker Raymond Dominguez was found lifeless inside his cell at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) confirmed Friday.

BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said Dominguez was found dead by his fellow inmates inside his cell at the NBP maximum security compound at past 6 a.m.

Chaclag said it appears that there was no sign of foul play in Dominguez’s demise but they will wait for the medico-legal report on the cause of death.

“Natagpuan siyang patay sa kaniyang bed so it appears that he died of natural causes pero pinaiimbestigahan pa natin. Wala namang foul play,” he said.

Dominguez had a history of diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, according to Chaclag.

Last year, BuCor denied rumors that Dominguez died of COVID-19 although it confirmed that the inmate had contracted the viral respiratory disease.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has asked the BuCor to submit a report on the inmate’s death.

Dominguez was brought to the NBP in April 2012 after he was convicted of carjacking.

He was said to be a part of the notorious carjack ring responsible for the string of carjacking incidents that made headlines in 2011.

Dominguez’s gang was also linked to other high-profile crimes, including the murder of car dealer Venson Evangelista. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mac Cordova)

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