Duterte starts major revamp at BuCor

By: DJ Yap, Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Julie M. Aurelio - @inquirerdotnet September 14,2019 - 08:57 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte | Inquirer.net File Photo

MANILA, Philippines–President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered next-in-rank employees to temporarily assume the duties of prison officials who were suspended for the controversial early release of heinous crime convicts.

Malacañang said the President issued the directive as the investigation over the extent of corruption in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) continued to unravel.

Heads will roll

“Like the President said, our investigation is ongoing so that we will find out all types of corruption there, so that heads will be rolling other than the suspension made by the Ombudsman,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview on Friday.

Panelo made the statement a day after Mr. Duterte said he would “let go” of all BuCor officials involved in corruption, particularly in the early release of prisoners due to the expanded benefits of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for convicts.

Earlier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the six-month suspension of 30 BuCor personnel in connection with the release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts whose prison terms were shortened due to the GCTA granted to them.

DOJ eyes control of BuCor

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, said he wanted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to regain some form of “control” over the BuCor after the Senate hearing uncovered continuing corruption in prisons.

“I am beginning to think that the law itself that supposedly strengthened the BuCor, and consequently diminished DOJ control over it, may have to be reviewed,” Guevarra told reporters on Friday.

DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said Republic Act No. 10575, which strengthened the BuCor, had been cited by BuCor officials to justify that decisions on release of high-profile inmates did not need prior approval from the justice secretary.

Since the law was passed in 2013, Perete added, the DOJ could only exercise administrative supervision over the BuCor instead of control.

The DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are expected to issue on Monday the new implementing rules and regulations for the 2013 law that increased GCTA for prisoners.

At a press briefing on Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite slammed the BuCor for its latest gaffe in mistakenly including plunder convict and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in the list of released heinous crime prisoners with the crime of “rape.”

‘Bureau of Mistakes’

“Perhaps it’s time we changed the name of the Bureau of Corrections to the Bureau of Mistakes,” Gaite said.

Red-faced BuCor officials were put on the hot seat in the Senate this week after they released a defective list of 2,160 heinous crime suspects who were freed under the GCTA law.

The senators are investigating the controversial release of the heinous crime convicts on the strength of Republic Act No. 10592, or the expanded GCTA law, which was supposed to exclude people charged with heinous crimes.

The BuCor list included Napoles, who was convicted of plunder in December 2018 in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded.

Napoles, who is facing a slew of other cases, is listed at No. 275 among other “rape” convicts supposedly released on Nov. 12, 2018, after “expiration of sentence.”

It turned out, however, that Napoles was never freed and remains incarcerated at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, according to a DOJ official.

“Perhaps in their haste to release notorious personalities, they made such an error,” Gaite told reporters.

“Well, it is true that she (Napoles) raped the coffers of the people,” the Makabayan lawmaker said in jest.

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TAGS: BuCor, corruption, Duterte, suspended

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