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MANILA, Philippines – Days before leaving for China and as public outrage boiled over the early release of heinous crime convicts, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed a retired army general as deputy director of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Retired brigadier general Milfredo Melegrito was appointed BuCor deputy director on August 27, the day before Duterte departed for Beijing for his 5th visit to China.
This is according to a list of new presidential appointees released by Malacañang on Saturday, August 31.
Melegrito had just retired from the military last July 5. A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986, he had served as deputy commander of the Northern Luzon Command.
A week before Duterte signed Melegrito’s appointment, on August 21, he had supposedly ordered BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra not to approve the early release of rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez, according to his trusted aide Senator Bong Go.
The presidential order was made a day after Guevarra told media that Sanchez may be among the inmates who would be released soon because of the retroactive application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
The remark sparked public outrage and ignited a debate over whether or not heinous crime convicts are covered by the benefits of the law. Experts are divided on the issue.
Malacañang, on August 23, categorically stated that heinous crime convicts like Sanchez do not qualify for early release.
An opposing interpretation has it that the section which the Palace and Duterte think means such inmates are disqualified actually only disqualifies them from “credit of preventive imprisonment,” and not early release.
After August 21, when Duterte supposedly gave his orders to Faeldon and Guevarra, the two officials changed their tune, saying Sanchez may not be released soon after all.
The Palace also later on said the 1,914 heinous crime convicts released from jail due to the GCTA law must be sent back to prison.
Duterte has yet to speak publicly about Sanchez, the GCTA law controversy, and its implications on Faeldon and Guevarra. – Rappler.com