SEN. Ronald dela Rosa yesterday said there was no instance of “GCTA for sale” during his stint as director general of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
“In my six months, wala akong na-prove na merong GCTA (I have not proven there’s GCTA for sale),” he said in an interview with radio station dzBB.
“Kung meron man, napakagaling nilang magtago ng GCTA for sale na ‘yan dahil hindi ko talaga nadiskubre (If there is, they hid it very well because I really did not discover it),” he added.
Dela Rosa made the remark after Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday claimed some inmates resorted to bribery to avail of a favorable computation of good conduct time allowances (GCTAs) that reduced sentences.
Hontiveros raised the issue during a Monday hearing on the controversial case of Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan town in Laguna who is serving seven life terms for rape and murder.
Sanchez would have been released for good conduct if not for public outrage.
Dela Rosa said he would have found out if the practice really existed because the President placed him in the BuCor to weed out corruption in that agency.
Dela Rosa headed the prisons authority for roughly five months from April 2018, after retiring as PNP chief, to October 2018 when he had to resign to run in the May 2019 elections.
He said that during his stint, he signed 120 release orders for inmates found eligible to avail of the GCTA. One of them was a convicted drug offender.
His successor, Nicanor Faeldon, got in hot water after the August 20 announcement of Sanchez’ impending early release on good behavior provoked public outcry.
During the Senate hearing on Monday, Faeldon confirmed having signed a “memorandum of release” dated August 20 in favor of Sanchez, although he said he recalled it shortly after.
Sanchez, while serving time, was reportedly found keeping illegal drugs twice in his detention cell at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, and had lavish accommodations in his shelter. Critics pointed out that this belied any good conduct on his part.
Hontiveros, during the Senate hearing, cited information from unnamed “insiders” that Sanchez and other notorious convicts were given “special treatment” and were “not random beneficiaries” of the law on incentives for good behavior.
Some administration allies blamed the misapplication and misinterpretation of Republic Act No. 10592 on the implementing rules and regulations made during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
In a post on Twitter, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he “already asked current [officials] to suspend [the IRR], then change it and submit to congress for approval.”
About 2,000 inmates have been released for good behavior, according to the BuCor.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said policemen cannot just re-arrest the convicts released under the GCTA law any court order.
“If they do something against the law then we can re-arrest them for that offense, not for previous offense. That’s the least we can do … We need to get an order from the court ordering us to re-arrest, but on our own, probably we cannot. The release is binding because it was signed by the director of the BuCor,” Albayalde said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
A total of 1,941 convicts have been released earlier that their given sentences since 2014 due to the GCTA law, including big-time drugs and three of the killers of the Chiong sisters in Cebu.
Albayalde also said the PNP has not been provided by the BuCor a list of the released convicts.
“So if and when the BuCor would give us the list, then probably we can start with the monitoring,” he added. – With Raymond Africa