Faeldon told: Attend GCTA hearing or be detained anew | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Nonato, V. (2019, September 02). Faeldon told: Attend GCTA hearing or be detained anew. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved September 02, 2019 from https://malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/faeldon-told-attend-gcta-hearing-or-be-detained-anew

Faeldon told: Attend GCTA hearing or be detained anew
September 02, 2019
BY VINCE NONATO

The Senate has issued a subpoena commanding Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon to appear before an inquiry on the early release of inmates on the basis of their good behavior, warning he may be detained – again – if he disobeys.

Justice committee chair Sen. Richard Gordon issued the subpoena on Saturday night, after Faeldon sent word that he will not be able to attend the hearing scheduled this morning. Senate President Vicente Sotto III approved the subpoena.

“You are hereby commanded and required to appear before the Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the Senate, then and there to testify under oath on what you know relative to the subject matter under inquiry…” read the subpoena.

“Fail not under penalty of law,” the order warned.

Under Section 18 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, disobedience to the committee’s orders or undue refusal to appear may be treated as contempt of the Senate.

Witnesses who have been cited in contempt may be detained and placed under the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms until he agrees to testify or produce the required documents.

Gordon, in a radio interview with dwIZ on Saturday warned Faeldon that he will have him detained at the Pasay City Jail if he does not attend the hearing.

Faeldon was originally sent an invitation, not a summons. On Saturday, he informed Gordon’s committee that he will send a legal representative in his stead, as he will be attending a training sponsored by the Canadian embassy.

Faeldon was previously detained at the Senate in September 2017 for snubbing an inquiry into bribery allegations that hounded the Bureau of Corrections while he was the commissioner. While detained, President Duterte appointed him as deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

Gordon ordered Faeldon’s transfer to the Pasay City Jail in January 2018 after bickering with him during a hearing. Faeldon was released in March 2018 and appointed to the BuCor in November of the same year.

As the chief of prisons authority, Faeldon again provoked public outrage regarding the questionable implementation of Republic Act No. 10592, which provided for a greater reduction of the sentence of inmates who showed good behavior while in detention.

This came after the Department of Justice announced the law will be applied in the case of former Calauan, Laguna, Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez was sentenced in 1995 to 40 years in prison for the rape and murder of a University of the Philippines Los Baños student and the murder of her male friend. While serving time, he was twice caught in possession of illegal drugs in 2006 and 2010, and was revealed to have had lavish accommodations in his shelter in 2015.

News reports have earlier said Faeldon has signed a release order for Sanchez dated Aug. 20, even as the corrections chief had denied doing so.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday revealed that under Faeldon’s watch, four convicted Chinese drug offenders were released on good behavior and were now undergoing deportation proceedings.

Again on Friday, he claimed, without specifying, that the men convicted in the 1997 gang-rape and murder of the Chiong sisters in Cebu were also released early.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Malacañang will not stop Faeldon from attending the Senate hearing, but appealed to senators to accord him proper treatment.

Panelo said President Duterte respects and does not interfere with the internal affairs and activities of other independent and co-equal branches of government but “what the President does not like is if his officials are being embarrassed in Congress.”

In an interview with radio station dzBB, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the release order for Sanchez and roughly 10,000 other inmates was “invalid because it did not have the approval of the Secretary of Justice.”

Drilon said that while Section 4 of RA 10592 gave the BuCor director general the sole discretion to compute good conduct time allowances, a slightly earlier law, the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013 (RA 10575) empowered the Secretary of Justice to “review, reverse, revise, or modify the decisions of the BuCor in the exercise of its regulatory or quasi-judicial functions.”

RA 10575 was signed by former president Benigno Aquino III on May 24, 2013.

Justice Undersecretary and spokesperson Markk Parete confirmed the BuCor’s practice was to implement the release orders for inmates convicted of committing heinous crimes without the prior approval of the Justice Secretary.

Parete said the BuCor does not even furnish the Department of Justice copies of the release orders under the Good Conduct Time Allowance for inmates.

Perete agreed with Drilon that RA 10575 made the corrections bureau a line agency of the DOJ subject to the supervision of the secretary of justice.

“This law strengthened the Bureau of Corrections making it a line agency subject to the supervision of the secretary instead of control, except that the secretary should still have review powers,” he said in a separate interview with dzBB radio.

Perete said this must be the reason why the DOJ did not know of the supposed release order for Sanchez and the convicts behind the killing of the Chiong sisters in Cebu City.

“We only learned of it through the media,” he said.

On top of the law, Perete said the DOJ has also issued a department order in 2015 requiring the BuCor to bring to its attention any impending release of heinous crimes convicts.

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen Bernard Banac said the police force is monitoring the activities of convicted heinous crime inmates who have been freed due to good conduct credits to make sure they do not go back to their old ways.

Banac said the release of heinous crimes convicts is a great concern for the PNP due to the possibility of them committing the same offenses when they rejoin their communities.

“We are ready to respond to any eventuality which will be brought about by these released convicted criminals and at the same time we are very much concerned that we need to monitor their activities since there is a possibility that they may get back to their old illegal activities,” Banac said.

Banac urged the BuCor to inform the PNP when high-profile inmates, such as drug lords, are ready to be released or have already been released from prison so they can monitor the ex-convicts’ moves while they are still in the country.

“The PNP needs to be informed if these drug lords have been released, like in the case of the four drug lords which are now under the care of the Bureau of Immigration awaiting deportation. It is very important that we know these incidents. Every detail, information of their release is important that’s why coordination with the concerned government agency is a must,” he added.

He also asked local communities to help the police keep an eye on the activities of the released convicts by reporting to authorities the presence of such kinds of persons in their community.

“We are expecting that those convicted and released for ordinary crimes have been reformed. But we will treat differently those convicted for heinous crimes and were earlier released,” Banac warned.

Drilon also called for Faeldon’s removal.

“This is a huge controversy and it shows he has been lacking, especially in the implementation of the GCTA law and especially in securing the approval of the SOJ in case of prisoners convicted of heinous crime in accordance with the DOJ department order at RA 10575,” Drilon said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros in a statement yesterday said Faeldon “effectively coddled an unrepentant convicted rapist and murderer, turned a blind eye to Sanchez’s crimes while he is in prison and lied to the public.”

“The measure is actually a good law consistent with the principles of restorative justice. But because of Sanchez and the release of several Chinese drug traffickers, Faeldon cast unnecessary doubts on the law, and placed in limbo the chance for a second life of many deserving inmates who have made great effort at repentance and rehabilitation,” Hontiveros said.

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday said Sanchez’s case was “an abomination and a misapplication of the law” and “a bastardization of the spirit of restorative justice.”

But, she said Sanchez’s case “should not prevent us from pursuing the goals of R.A. No. 10592, a progressive piece of legislation, and should continue to benefit those who have earnestly qualified for time allowance.”

De Lima noted the law, enacted in 2013, was meant to reward sincere reformation, protect well-behaved inmates from being corrupted by prolonged incarceration, and free up jails and prisons so they could focus on preventing crimes inside the facilities and managing inmates with high risk of recidivism.

Hontiveros pointed out: “We have a list of inmates who are more deserving to be released—pastors, teachers,prison counselors. Why were they bypassed for a man who smuggled drugs inside a Virgin Mary statue?”

On calls to replace Faeldon, Panelo said the President had not said anything about the BuCor head.

“Until the President says otherwise, the presumption is he still has his trust and confidence,” Panelo said.

Faeldon, after his stint as the Bureau of Immigration and the controversy hounding him after the billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs were able to slip through his office’s gates, was reappointed by Duterte and assigned to the BuCor.

Guevarra said retired Army General Milfredo Melegrito was considered for the post of deputy director of the BuCor even before the controversy on the GCTA application came out.

“I do not know Gen. Melegrito personally and I’m not sure if I’ve met him before. I believe he was considered for appointment as deputy director general of BuCor even before the GCTA controversy blew up,” Guevarra said in a text message.

The appointment of Melegrito, made before the President’s four-day trip to China last week, is seen as a possible prelude to the revamp of the agency.

“I have no personal information on that. As appointing authority, the president alone can answer for that. For now, these talks remain as mere speculations,” Guevarra said when asked if Faeldon will soon be out of the bureau. – With Jocelyn Montemayor, Ashzel Hachero and Raymond Africa

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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