AN author of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law wants Bureau of Corrections Director General Nicanor Faeldon held liable for the early release of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.
Section 1 of Republic Act No. 10592, which contains the original provisions on the GCTA, states that “persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage.”
RA 10592 increased the GCTA being given to convicts.
“He is liable. As far as I see, the clear spirit and intent of the law is that they should not release (convicts of) heinous crimes,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart TV program.
“There should have been no release and absolutely no release of those involved in heinous crimes,” said Rodriguez, one of the law’s proponents and a veteran lawyer.
During the hearing of the House justice committee yesterday, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said 2,160 inmates convicted of heinous crimes have been released under the GCTA since 2013 when the law was signed.
“2,160 released heinous crimes convicts means 2,160 counts. 2,160 years (imprisonment) and 216,000,000 fines per person,” Nograles said.
Nograles said data obtained by his office showed that from 2013, 22,049 prisoners were released because of the GCTA law but BuCor data presented before the justice panel showed that only 18,885 were released.
Capt. Eusebio del Rosario, chief of the BuCor Public Information Office, said the data on 22,049 prisoners still include those who were released under parole and executive clemency but Nograles questioned the figure, saying that no prisoner should have been released because of the GCTA in 2013 since its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) was published only in 2014.
Supt. Melencio Faustino, head of the Davao Penal Farm, told lawmakers that it was Faeldon who ordered him not to submit to the Department of Justice the GCTA records of convicts applying for early release despite facing life imprisonment.
“That gives us now the revelation that Faeldon has directed them not to follow the department order itself. If it was followed, none of these heinous crime convicts would have been released,” Rodriguez told the panel.
Rodriguez was referring to Department Order No. 935 directing BuCor to submit to the DOJ all appeals for early release and applications of GCTA of convicts serving life sentences for heinous crimes.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa was the one who issued the directive when he was justice secretary.
“Yes, your honor, we are remiss in our duty to transmit,” Faustino told Rodriguez. “Our director general ordered us not to transmit to anyone.”
Faustino said Faeldon issued the order because the bureau was “saddled” by several cases filed in court and because the bureau had a “very limited number of personnel.”
Rodriguez said Faeldon must be held liable because under Section 6 of RA 10592, the law’s penal provision states that any public officer or employee who violates the provisions of the Act could face one-year imprisonment, a fine of P100,000 and perpetual disqualification from holding office.
He said other members of the BuCor management, and the evaluation and screening committees should also be held administratively and criminally liable.
PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said the law’s penal provisions must be considered in case filing of a criminal suit is recommended against all the officials who processed the release of convicts.
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa is Faeldon’s predecessor in the BuCor.
Nograles said members of the management, screening and evaluation committee (MSEC), if found to have erroneously recommended the release of persons deprived of liberty who are guilty of heinous crimes, should be charged with criminal and administrative complaints.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said President Duterte “will maintain the status quo” in the BuCor leadership “until the congressional hearings are concluded.”
Faeldon, during a Senate hearing on Monday, said he would not resign as he invoked the presumption of regularity in processing the early release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez for good behavior.
Asked if Malacañang still considers Faeldon competent, Panelo said, “I cannot say anything about that because, first, that lies on the President’s discretion. I will not be prejudging any person in this arena. It’s the Senate investigation… they will be having their own recommendations and the President will evaluate and make a decision, unless sooner decided by the President himself,” he said.
He reiterated that unless the President says otherwise, it is presumed that Duterte still has trust and confidence in Faeldon. – With Jocelyn Montemayor