Duterte on BuCor mess: Everybody has to go

By Argyll Geducos

President Duterte said the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is off to start from scratch after he expressed that everybody in the agency "has to go" due to the corruption.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 28th Bureau of Fire Protection Founding Anniversary and 118 Years of Fire Service at the Philippine International Convention Center on August 1, 2019. (REY BANIQUET / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (REY BANIQUET / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Duterte made the statement as the BuCor undergoes Senate investigation due to corruption and the questionable release of inmates under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

In a speech in Balanga, Bataan, Duterte said that he might ignore those who thought they were just implementing the law, but added that he will not show mercy to those who were involved in the corruption in the bureau.

"So setting aside all the legal infirmities there, even if it was allowed, corruption was present. Sabihin ko lang sa inyo (I will tell you). And everybody will go --- will have to go," he said Thursday evening.

"Not because they were maybe exercising a questionable provision of law and arrogating upon themselves or to themselves that power, wala sa akin 'yan (That's nothing to me). If it has done in good faith, hindi kita anuhin (I will not touch you)," he added.

"Pero kung sabihin mo na 'bayaran,' (But if you are involved in corruption and was paid) ah that is another story. I will hit you not because the law was in the limbo but because of corruption. So 'yan ang maaasahan ninyo diyan (You can expect that)," he continued.

'Questionable law'

Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated that the GCTA law was really vulnerable to misinterpretation because it was not stated clearly who should decide who gets released.

"Ang problema niyang batas na 'yan, wala talagang batas nagsabi kung sino (The problem with that law is it didn't say who should sign the release orders). That's the greatest hiatus of them all," he said.

"Walang sinabi ang batas kung sinong magpirma (It was not stated there). So the guys there sa (in the) BuCor took upon themselves to arrogate the power and started a practice which was continued," he added.

Duterte said it would be hard to convict those in the BuCor since the law itself is questionable.

"When the Secretary of Justice himself si Guevarra, said that 'We will ask for a clarificatory question or for the Supreme Court to explain,' that law becomes in doubt and questionable, then you cannot convict a person for the rule that he must be proved to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt," he said.

"Eh kung ang mga abogado hindi sigurado (If lawyers are not even sure about it), then how can you convict this idiot? Although it was really --- even if it was regular or allowed, corruption was there," he added.

The controversy in the BuCor led to the sacking of its chief Nicanor Faeldon. Earlier, rapist and murderer former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez was reported to be set for release because of the said law.

It was also reported that 1,914 heinous crimes convicts were released because of the law despite the measure stating that such prisoners are not qualified to avail of the law's benefits.