SEN. Richard Gordon yesterday said former Calauan, Laguna, mayor Antonio Sanchez may have bribed officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to secure a favorable reduction of his sentence.
Asked about the possibility, the chairman of the Senate justice and Blue Ribbon committees answered, “I think so.”
In an interview with radio station dzBB, Gordon cited the admission of Sanchez’ wife, Elvira, that she visited the office of now-fired BuCor director general Nicanor Faeldon on the night of August 20 after receiving a text message about the notorious inmate’s impending release. Elvira was made to come back the next day. Gordon noted that August 21 was a holiday.
“Sa case ni Sanchez, nakita natin yung common-law wife niya, kayang-kayang pumunta doon sa Muntinlupa sa office ni Faeldon kahit dis-oras ng gabi… So, talagang meron silang ugnayan (In Sanchez’ case, we saw that his common-law wife can easily go to Faeldon’s office in Muntinlupa even late at night. So, there really is a connection between them),” Gordon said.
Gordon’s committees are jointly looking into the BuCor’s questionable implementation of Republic Act No. 10592, the 2013 law which expanded good conduct time allowances (GCTA) that may reduce the sentences of inmates.
The fourth hearing on the issue will be held today.
Sanchez is serving seven life terms for the heinous crimes of rape and murder of a UP-Los Baños student and the murder of another student.
The Department of Justice’s August 20 announcement regarding Sanchez’ impending release on good behavior provoked public outrage because of his multiple reported violations of prison rules, including possession of illegal drugs in his detention cell at the
New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros first raised the issue of a “GCTA for sale” racket during the Senate’s September 2 hearing.
Although she did not back it up with evidence at the time, she said Sanchez and other notorious convicts were given “special treatment” and were “not random beneficiaries” of the law on incentives for good behavior.
On the night of September 5, Yolanda Camelon testified that a “Maj. Mabel Bansil” asked for P50,000 in exchange for a greater reduction of the sentence served by her husband in the NBP.
Bansil allegedly introduced Camelon to documentations section chief Staff Sgt. Ramoncito Roque. Camelon claimed she went to Roque’s house to pay a P10,000 installment and the latter promised to have her husband released by March.
Camelon’s husband remained in prison. She tried to recover the bribe, to no avail. Roque, who attended the hearing, claimed he returned the money days after meeting Camelon.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a radio interview on Saturday that an NBP insider and a former BuCor official, as well as a third witness he refused to describe, may appear to talk more about the alleged scheme.
Sotto said the anomalies were not confined to the GCTA. He alleged that bribes were paid, too, for the illegal construction of homes inside prison premises, to “tanim-kaso, palitan ng assignment at trabaho (case-planting, exchanges of assignments and work).”
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said President Duterte’s pronouncement that he continues to have trust and confidence in Faeldon is not meant to pre-empt any investigation on BuCor and its officials.
The President last week asked the Ombudsman to investigate all BuCor officials due to allegations of corruption and irregularities involving the GCTA implementation.
Panelo reiterated Faeldon was dismissed for disobeying the President’s order to stop the release of convicts under the GCTA. – With Jocelyn Montemayor