Dela Rosa classmate named BuCor OIC as gov't probes prison scandal

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday, September 6, assigned retired Deputy Director General Melvin Ramon Buenafe as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) after President Rodrigo Duterte fired Nicanor Faeldon.

Buenafe has been appointed OIC of BuCor before when his classmate, now Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, quit the post to run for the elections.

Buenafe, along with Dela Rosa, is part of the Philippine Military Academy's Sinagtala Class of 1986, the current ruling class in the Philippine National Police.

Guevarra has a tall order for Buenafe: "To adopt strict measures to ensure the integrity and proper safekeeping of official records of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) and other similar time credits," as said in the secretary's department order assigning Buenafe as OIC.

Buenafe would oversee BuCor as the bureau deals with the revocation of earlier granted release orders to heinous crimes convicts.

But he could find himself in a tight situation. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said previous BuCor chiefs, including Buenafe's classmate Dela Rosa, should be covered by the investigation.

Guevarra instructed Buenafe to "take appropriate steps for the formal revocation of release orders improvidently issued and for the recommitment of Persons Deprived of Liberty erroneously released from prison by reason thereof."

The freedom of earlier released 1,914 heinous crimes convicts is at stake. It will also open the BuCor to possible suits from these convicts.

Guevarra also created a committee composed of his men – Undersecretary Deo Marco, as well as Assistant Secretaries Neal Bainto and George Ortha – "to exercise close administrative supervision over the bureau pending appointment by the President of a new director general."

Guevarra said he would launch an investigation into the alleged "GCTA for sale" scheme following a testimony in the Senate of a convict's wife who said BuCor officials asked money from her in exchange for her husband's early release.

"That will be part of the investigation because after we have completed the guidelines or even before that I intend to conduct an inquiry into what's going on at the BuCor in connection with the GCTA allowances," Guevarra said.

The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are currently conducting a joint review of the GCTA law guideline, with the goal of excluding heinous crimes convicts from Republic Act No. 10592 or the expanded GCTA law.

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Before bowing out of the police service, Buenafe served as the top cop of the Bicol Region. Prior to the commander post, he led the police Highway Patrol Group. He is a native of Naga City.

LOOK: Sec Guevarra's tall order to DDG Buenafe "to ensure the integrity and proper safekeeping of official records" of GCTA. In this Dept Order, Guevarra acknowledges that Duterte's order to ask freed convicts to surrender is only "verbal." | via @lianbuan pic.twitter.com/namP0n9Tl6 — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) September 6, 2019  Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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