By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will leave it to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) whether to file charges or not against former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon and other prison officials concerning the alleged anomalous implementation of the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
“The OMB has primary investigative jurisdiction over anti-graft cases,” said the Secretary who reminded that the OMB has already conducted an investigation against Faeldon and other BuCor officials regarding the controversy.
Guevarra made the statement after the Senate committee on justice and human rights released its finding regarding the inquiry it conducted over corruption at the penitentiary and has recommended that Faeldon be charged with violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Senate committee which is chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon also sought the dismissal and the filing of direct bribery charges against Ramoncito Roque, BuCor chief of documents and record section; Benilda “Mabel” Bansil, BuCor senior inspector; and Veronica “Boday” Buno, BuCor corrections officer.
The OMB has already released a decision back in January which ordered the dismissal of Roque, Bansil and Buno as well as the filing of charges against the three for graft and direct bribery.
The Senate Committee also recommended the dismissal from service of three New Bilibid Prison Hospital (NBPH) personnel who were part of the “hospital pass for sale” scheme, namely, Dr. Ernesto Tamayo, head of the directorate for health services; Dr. Ursicio Cenas, medical officer; and Meryl Benitez, a nurse.
Guevarra added that prior to the disclosure of the Senate findings the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Interior and Local Goverment (DILG) have revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the expanded GCTA law in response to the controversy.
“We have adopted and are already implementing the revised IRR of the expanded GCTA law,” the DOJ chief said.
“The new BuCor director general [Gerald Bantag] has already made a number of key personnel movements within the bureau,” he added.
President Duterte fired Faeldon in September last year after the latter approved the release of several prisoners convicted of heinous crimes, including former Calauan City mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for the murder and rape of two University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños students.
Gordon said the committee found Faeldon guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance for not following the proper procedures in the release of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are supposed to be qualified under the GCTA law.
The senator said Faeldon feigned ignorance about Department Order No. 953 issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which requires him to seek the approval of the justice secretary before releasing prisoners or inmates sentenced to life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua, or high-risk inmates.
He added Faeldon did not exercise due diligence in the implementation of RA 10592, the law that expanded the provisions of the GCTA and allowed the early release of convicts.