CRIMINAL charges have been recommended by four Senate committees against former New Bilibid Prison (NBP) chief Nicanor Faeldon and other ranking prisons officials for irregularities in the grant of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) privilege for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
The Senate committee on justice and human rights, along with the Senate committees on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, accountability of public officers and investigations, and finance recommended that Faeldon be charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which has a penalty of imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than 10 years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation in favor of the government of unexplained wealth.
Senators likewise want Faeldon held liable for nonfeasance for not strictly following the procedures in granting the GCTA as required under the Department of Justice’s Order 953 (DO 953).
Under DO 953, high risk convicts can only be released with the approval of the justice secretary.
Faeldon had told senators he was not aware of the requirement, which was why he signed the release order for heinous crime convicts, including former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.
Sanchez was jailed for the rape-slay of UP Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her companion Allan Gomez in the 1990s. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The four Senate panels also recommended the filing of malfeasance charges against Ramoncito Roque, chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) documents and records section; Ma. Benilda Bansil, who holds the rank of jail senior inspector; and Veronica Buno, corrections officer. The three were earlier ordered dismissed from service by the Ombudsman.
The committees likewise want Roque, Bansil, and Buno charged with direct bribery for demanding money from prisoners who wanted to avail of the early release privilege.
Direct bribery charges were also recommended to be filed against Dr. Ernesto Tamayo, NBP health services director; Dr. Ursicio Cenas, NBP medical officer; and Meryl Benitez, nursing attendant, for being complicit with the questionable prolonged medical confinements of some high-profile detainees.
The Senate last year held marathon committee hearings after news broke out that Sanchez had been granted early release privileges under the GCTA principle.
The hearing branched out to irregularities in the NBP and BuCor, which later on led to the discovery of the activities of “ninja cops” inside the jail facility, and subsequently ended in the probe into the 2013 sham drug raid by 13 cops from Pampanga under then Senior Supt. Oscar Albayalde.
The ninja cops controversy forced Albayalde to step down from his post earlier than his mandatory retirement.