Ombudsman suspends BuCor legal chief, 2 more execs in GCTA mess

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires suspended the Bureau of Corrections legal chief and two other BuCor executives in the continuing investigation into anomalies surrounding the grant of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) to prisoners.

In 3  separate orders on Tuesday, September 10, Martires imposed 6-month preventive suspensions without pay on BuCor legal chief Fredric Santos, Technical Superintendent Maria Fe Marquez, and Correctional Officer III Joel Nalva.

Marquez was the one who signed the release orders for 3 convicts in the Chiong sisters murder case on August 16, when then-BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon was out of town.

"This Office finds that the evidence in the form of testimonies of witnesses and public documents showing the anomalous release of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes/offenses, appear to be strong," Martires said in the 3 orders.

The GCTA mess was prompted by public outcry following the aborted release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez. This led to congressional inquiries into the regularity of granting time allowances to prisoners.

Santos, whose office is not included in the route of screening for GCTA grants, was earlier grilled by the Senate blue ribbon committee on his role in rendering legal opinion on whether the BuCor chief needed the approval of the justice secretary in releasing inmates sentenced to reclusion perpetua. 

Santos earlier said before a Senate inquiry that he had told Faeldon of the rule requiring a justice secretary's approval for releases, but when Faeldon denied this, Santos backtracked and said he could not recall whether it was just relayed to a staff member.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said it was former BuCor chief and now Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa who asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to waive that rule. No action was taken on Dela Rosa's request, said Guevarra.

Preventive suspension is the usual first act of the Office of the Ombudsman in an investigation.The eventual acts concern administrative charges which may result in dismissal from the service, and criminal investigation which may result in the filing of charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Martires earlier imposed preventive suspensions on 27 officials, including  documents section chief Ramoncito Roque who has been accused of extorting P50,000 from an inmate's wife in exchange for early release. Roque denied the accusation. – 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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