By Hannah Torregoza
A powerful well-entrenched syndicate operating inside the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is behind the assassination of one of its officials, according to opposition Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima was referring to BuCor official Ruperto Traya, Jr.’s whose death is now being examined by the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice and Human Rights Committees in a joint probe on the controversy over the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Traya’s death came into focus after an inmate testified on allegations about the GCTA being for sale inside the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) and other anomalies rampant at the BuCor.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said she had reason to believe that Traya was killed because he knew about the fabrication of inmates’ records by his division, which is in charge of processing and computing the GCTA of inmates.
“Most plausibly, he posed a danger to those responsible for tidying up the inmates’ records, including that of (former mayor Antonio) Sanchez, as a potential whistleblower,” De Lima said in her recent statement.
Traya was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in Muntinlupa City last Aug. 27. The victim had just gotten off his car and was about to open the gate of his rented parking lot when he was shot to death by the lone gunman.
De Lima underscored the need to investigate Traya’s killing as it was too much of a coincidence that it happened amid the controversy involving the now-botched release of the former Calauan, Laguna Mayor.
Sanchez was convicted for rape and murder of two University of the Philippines Los Baños students in 1993 and was sentenced to 7 years of life imprisonment but was allegedly among those supposed to be released under the GCTA Law.
However, then BuCor head Nicanor Faeldon recalled his release order due to public outcry.
President Duterte has dismissed Faeldon as BuCor chief when calls for his resignation mounted.
De Lima pointed out that Traya’s killing and the GCTA scandal show the deep-seated corruption inside BuCor that could implicate a syndicate involving some BuCor officials in criminal activities.
“Faeldon is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the BuCor syndicate must be exposed and all its members investigated and prosecuted immediately,” De Lima said.
She said authorities should investigate the Inmates’ Documents Processing Division of the BuCor while the murder of Traya and Faeldon’s attempt to release Sanchez are still fresh in the public’s mind.
The senator said the possibility that Traya’s killing is connected with the ‘GCTA for sale’ syndicate should be fully explored to unmask those behind the murder and bring them to justice.
But despite the controversy hounding the GCTA implementation, De Lima urged her colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to improve the law instead of repealing it due to misapplication and misinterpretation to benefit favored convicts.