A barefaced lie
“It is not a secret if it is known by three people,” is an Irish proverb that warns of the dangers of sharing secret stories but it also applies to the way top officials of the Bureau of Corrections tried to hide the release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez from the public.
Last night, GMA 7 reported an exclusive and explosive item that BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon signed the release order of Antonio Sanchez in August 20, 2019 same day that national news circles picked up the story. It became viral and stoked public outrage forcing Faeldon to appear on a national news channel on August 22.
His appearance on CNN Philippines two days after the story of Sanchez’ release hit the headlines even featured a split screen of Faeldon in the CNN studio and Sanchez walking around the national penitentiary to illustrate that reports of his release were untrue.
Insinuations that money changed hands forced Faeldon to face the media and debunk rumors he had authorized the release of Sanchez. Pressed to air his views on whether Sanchez can have his sentence reduced on account of good conduct even if he was caught in possession of illegal drugs twice and having a kubol (jail cell with amenities like aircon and flat screen TV set), Faeldon declined to give a categorical answer saying that he didn’t want to pre-empt the recommendations of the Committee on Management, Screening and Evaluation.
In other words, the application of the GCTA law on the case of the convicted mayor in particular and other convicts in general is not a unilateral action on the part of the BuCor chief. It will first pass the review of the Committee on Management, Screening and Evaluation. Assuming the process was observed, committee members and BuCor administration staff also assisted in the undertaking such that a number of people were privy to the information.
The GMA 7 scoop implies that Faeldon went on national TV to make a barefaced lie and Sanchez’ presence around the national penitentiary was orchestrated to diffuse public outrage. But as the insight of the Irish proverb goes, the truth cannot be concealed because some other people were privy to the process.
Faeldon has yet to react on the GMA 7 report and recent disclosures made by Senator Panfilo Lacson that out of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts released under questionable circumstances, 48 are drug convicts, seven of them Chinese nationals. The Chinese drug lords were released in April and June this year.
Senator Lacson had also revealed that three Cebuanos convicted for the 1997 rape and killing of Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong have also been released. Most of the convicts who were given reduced sentences and subsequently released from prison come from well-to-do families, implying that the GCTA can be a source of massive corruption, according to the senator.
President Duterte is besieged by calls to fire Faeldon for putting the administration’s war against illegal drugs under a cloud for the second time. The first was in 2017 when he was still chief of the Bureau of Customs.
It was during his watch when some P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China slipped past Customs checkpoints. Lacson alleged that there was systematic bribery at the Bureau of Customs and that Faeldon looked the other way after he was given a “welcome gift” of P107 million when he assumed the post.
As we know, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigated the missing drug haul from China and summoned Faeldon who skipped the hearings supposedly because he has no respect for two members, namely, Senators Lacson and Antonio Trillanes. Faeldon was subsequently cited in contempt and was detained in the Senate from September 2017 until March 2018. After his release, President Duterte appointed him to another post, as head of the Office of Civil Defense and later as chief of the Bureau of Corrections.
Tomorrow, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to conduct a hearing on the application of the GCTA. Senator Richard Gordon who chairs the committee has announced that he has subpoenaed Faeldon to appear before the Senate panel.
Will he face the hearing or show contempt for the Senate proceedings like he did in 2017?
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