By Mario Casayuran
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said Saturday dismissed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Nicanor Faeldon could be held liable for releasing convicts serving time for heinous crimes without the necessary approval of the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary.
In a DWIZ radio interview, Drilon said Faeldon should head the list of BuCor officials to be held liable by the Office of the Ombudsman being the director of the country’s biggest penal institution.
Asked to specify the charges that might be leveled against Faeldon in the release of 1,914 convicts facing heinous crimes since 2014, Drilon replied: ‘’Nasa Ombudsman po yan dahil sa yan ay tungkulin ng isang official ng pamahalaan.’’ (That is up to the Ombudsman because Faeldon is a government official.)
President Duterte should also put under immediate suspension BuCor officials linked to the questionable release of convicts under the ‘’Good Conduct Time Allowance’’ (GCTA) law during the Senate committee hearings to avoid government records from being tampered with.
Drilon, a former Justice Secretary and former Senate President, said it is clear that BuCor officials did not follow a Department of Justice (DoJ) memorandum order that the release of parole orders of BuCor must be reviewed by the DoJ secretary.
President Duterte earlier dismissed Faeldon as the GCTA for sale scandal widened.
READ MORE: Duterte: I’m firing Faeldon
Asked whether he supports President Duterte’s statement that he still trusts Faeldon, Drilon said it is clear that that is the opinion of the President being the appointing authority.
Drilon said it is clear that the testimony of a wife of an inmate that she paid P10,000 to a BuCor official so that her husband would be paroled corroborated reports of widespread corruption in the release of convicts, particularly those serving heinous crimes.
Yolanda Camelon, wife of the inmate, felt bad that her husband remains in jail despite promises of some BuCor officials who were in charge of his prison records of his early release. She said the money she gave is ‘’hard-earned money.’’
On the theory that Faeldon did not know of this, Drilon said there may be no evidence to show he was involved but it is clear that ‘’there is incompetence or negligence for having failed to catch this kind of anomaly happening under his very nose.’’
Drilon said that there is a clear case of incompetence on the part of Faeldon for the incident that could not have happened had he managed BuCor like a tight ship.
Drilon said his colleagues at the Senate Blue Ribbon and justice committees have told him that more witnesses in the ‘’GCTA for sale’’ scandal would appear in tomorrow morning’s resumption of the public hearing.
He said it is very evident that Mrs. Camelon testified about what was happening at the prisons compound without fear.
Drilon quoted Senator Roland Dela Rosa, a former BuCor chief, as saying that he is ready to appear before the committee and testify on the GCTA issue.
He also said there are no vague provisions in the GCTA law but what should be amended is the release process contained in Department Order 953.
That process should be incorporated in the amended law clearly stating that a life termer could not be released without the approval of the DOJ secretary, he explained.
‘’Siguro maglagay tayo ng accountability na sino man ang hindi sumunod sa processong ito ay may pananagutan,’’ he explained. (We should put in the amended law a provision holding liable those who do not follow the process.)