Guevarra: Give DOJ more control over BuCor

Lian Buan
Guevarra: Give DOJ more control over BuCor

Darren Langit

The justice chief wants a review of Republic Act 10575, which 'diminished' the control of the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the Bureau of Corrections

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Friday, September 13, that the law that “diminished” the control over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) “may have to be reviewed” in light of scandals hitting the national penitentiary.

“I am beginning to think that the law itself that supposedly strengthened the BuCor (and consequently diminished Department of Justice control over it) may have to be reviewed,” Guevarra said referring to Republic Act 10575.

RA 10575, passed in 2013, strengthened BuCor powers but retained the “administrative supervision” of the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the bureau.

It says: “The Department of Justice (DOJ), having the BuCor as a line bureau and a constituent unit, shall maintain a relationship of administrative supervision… except that the DOJ shall retain authority over the power to review, reverse, revise or modify the decisions of the BuCor in the exercise of its regulatory or quasi-judicial functions.”

The Senate hearings revealed that the BuCor did not follow a 2015 DOJ department order that gave the justice secretary the power to approve early releases of inmates sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

“This is also the law used by BuCor’s legal to justify its assertion that its decisions as regards the release of high profile inmates do not need notice to, much less prior approval by, the Secretary of Justice,” said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete.

Perete said they wanted a restoration of the DOJ’s “some form of control over BuCor.”

Perete clarified that this position would not be included in the conclusion and recommendation of the DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which will be released Monday, September 16, on the revision of rules of RA 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

“The Joint Review Committee’s mandate is limited to the review of the IRR of RA 10592 and of its uniform manual,” Perete said.

Perete added the idea of a review is Guevarra’s “judgment based on his appreciation of the current state of law and the events which it may have helped spawn.” –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.