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MANILA, Philippines – Erstwhile Bureau of Corrections chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa had requested for the power to grant early release to convicts, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
At the 4th Senate hearing on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, Guevarra on Monday, September 9, said there was a letter from the BuCor requesting for the authority to be “delegated” to the prisons chief.
“There was this letter coming from the Bureau of Corrections sometime in 2018, requesting that the authority to release PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) on account of expired sentences be delegated to the BuCor chief,” Guevarra said.
The justice secretary said that he “wasn’t aware of the letter until recently.” Guevarra didn’t have the copy of the letter at the hearing. (READ: Gaps by both Aquino, Duterte administrations led to GCTA mess)
Pressed by lawmakers, Guevarra said that the letter came from Dela Rosa, who was the BuCor chief from April to October 2018. Dela Rosa was not at the hearing at that time.
“According to the draft memorandum addressed to me – this was only a draft – but it made mention of a memorandum dated June 4, 2018, from [Undersecretary] Dela Rosa, director general of BuCor, requesting for the grant of authority for the director-general to approve or act on the following requests enumerated in Department of Order 953,” Guevarra said.
Under DO 953 signed in November 2015, the justice secretary must be the final approving authority for the release of an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment. The BuCor chief can only grant releases to prisoners with expired sentence, otherwise the DOJ has to be notified.
LOOK: DOJ Department Order 953 signed by then-Secretary Alfredo Caguioa on the rules/procedure in the release of national prisoners with expired sentence pic.twitter.com/96DKy8yDQ6— Aika Rey (@reyaika) September 2, 2019
Guevarra on Monday said that the department did not act on the request of the BuCor.
“So nakalista (it was listed) but the first and foremost is the release of PDLs with expired sentences. No action was taken by the Department of Justice,” Guevarra said.
Sacked BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon had earlier admitted that he skipped the approval of the DOJ chief when he ordered the release of the Chinese drug convicts, the convicts in the Chiong sisters murder case, and rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez. (READ: ‘Obviously lying’: Senators don’t believe Faeldon)
The 2013 GCTA law became the center of controversy when the DOJ revealed that rape and murder convict Antonio Sanchez was supposedly among the 11,000 inmates up for early release, because of its retroactive application as ruled by the Supreme Court.
After public outcry, the DOJ suspended the release of inmates based on the GCTA. Lawmakers also moved to review the law. – Rappler.com