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Duterte ready to fire Faeldon from BuCor
Published on: Wednesday, September 04, 2019

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to fire Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon if he is found to have committed serious lapses in ordering the release of rape and murder convict Antonio Sanchez, drug traffickers and other high-profile prisoners, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said.

Go said Duterte has ordered an investigation to find out who was responsible for the near-release of Sanchez as well as the discharge of several Chinese drug traffickers for good behaviour under Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

“What the President wants is for those liable to be held accountable. From top to bottom, whoever allowed them to slip out should be made to answer,” Go told reporters in Filipino after attending the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s inquiry into the controversial release of some 1,914 convicts.

He said it was immediately clear to Duterte, who is a lawyer, that Sanchez and other inmates convicted for heinous crimes should not have been qualified for shortened prison sentences under the GCTA law.

“Even if we’re friends before, we’ve a fight against corruption in government, on criminality or the fight against illegal drugs, so if there’s a question of how the Chinese drug lords were able to get out, we have a problem,” Go said.

He said he found the testimony of Faeldon and other BuCor officials during the hearing “very inconsistent,” especially on who signed the documents for Sanchez’s release.

He said when Duterte found out in the news about Sanchez’s impending release last Aug. 21, he immediately issued an order for Faeldon to stop it.

The law, enacted in 2013 and implemented retroactively, allows the reduction of sentences by as many as 19 years based on a formula that tallies a convict’s “good behaviour.”

When asked whether he thinks Duterte will “recycle” Faeldon, Go said: “I can’t answer that. I’m not the appointing authority.”

He said if he had his way, he would prefer the freed inmates convicted for heinous crimes to be rearrested, and “if they refuse to surrender, shoot to kill.”

At the hearing, Faeldon testified that what he signed was a “memorandum” for release, and not an actual release order.

He said the “memorandum” simply started the processing of documents for Sanchez’s walking out of prison.

He claimed he had repeatedly pressed his subordinates in July to find a way not to have Sanchez freed but he was warned that he was exposing himself to lawsuits.

However, Sen. Francis Pangilinan pointed out that a memorandum is practically a release order that no prison superintendent has ever defied.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto pointed out during the inquiry that nothing in the GCTA law grants authority to the BuCor chief to order the release of a convict.

“The BuCor chief is just one who gives (time allowance) or counts, not to release (inmates) under the GCTA law,” Recto said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who has supervision over the BuCor, said the release of inmates did not pass through his office.

He, however, said Republic Act 10575 or the 2013 law that strengthened the BuCor gave the chief of the agency the authority to release inmates on good conduct.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also questioned the authority of BuCor regional chief for Davao Melencio Faustino to release convicted Taiwanese drug lord Chen Tiz Zang. “You usurped the authority of the BuCor,” Lacson told Faustino.

The BuCor official, however, cited an authority from the Department of Justice allowing him to release the Taiwanese. Guevarra denied having signed any memo to that effect.

Guevarra told the panel he ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to stop the deportation of Chen and four Chinese drug convicts immediately after the controversy erupted.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, scolded Faeldon for not exerting enough effort to screen candidates for release, noting that the Board of Pardons and Parole had earlier denied Sanchez’s application for clemency.

“You should know your job,” Gordon said as he stressed those convicted for heinous crimes should not benefit from the law.

Sen. Imee Marcos had Faeldon and other BuCor officials agree to a lifestyle check because of reports that privileges under the GCTA law are being granted in exchange for money.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked Faeldon point-blank when he is going to resign, to which he replied that the matter was up to “the appointing authority.”

“Do you believe you did a good job, Undersecretary (Faeldon)?” Hontiveros asked.

“I believe so,” Faeldon replied.

The senator, however, said developments “point to the opposite direction.”



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