BUCOR IS “THE BUREAU OF CORRUPTION”- Not the bureau of cor rection, chimed an amused GMA-7 radio anchor.
A component of RA 10590 encompassing the so-called GBTA (Good Conduct Time Allowance) that potentially reduces one’s prison term for “good behavior inside prison” is really GBTA (Grease Money Towards Administrators), chorused a radio caller.
The nation went agog, angrily, learning that 1,900 prisoners among the 20,000 released – for sentence commuted due to good behavior were “heinous criminals” and therefore not qualified for GBTA.
The BuCor claimed it was their “interpretation of the law” but one witness Yolanda Camillon (wife of an inmate) declared before the Senate that the Bureau of Corruption is engaged in a racket where from P50,000 to P1.5M changes hands for the early release of a prisoner. (Even a recommendation for a “hospital stay” for a prisoner is allegedly also for sale.)
President Rody Duterte, a former prosecutor, went ballistic and fired Bucor Chief Nicanor Faeldon and gave the 1,900 “wrongly-freed” heinous criminals 15 days to go back to jail or they will be hunted like criminals.
He cited a legal precedent where freeing a prisoner on an erroneous interpretation of the law can be a legal basis to jail the criminal back to prison. He also asked the Department of Finance for P 1.7 Billion- the total “bounty” he will place on each deserter from the prison of P 1-Million per head. As of this writing, about 100 had gone back to jail (including two of the Chiong sisters rapists-killers).
One legal opinion said it is only the courts that can order their retrieval with the issuance of another arrest order-otherwise the president’s meddling with such a court procedure would be a violation of the Constitutional principle of separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative branches.
What brought the nation’s temperature to a boil was knowing that one of the most detestable Bilibid prisoners -former Calauan Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez was among those to be reportedly freed on August 20 this year.
First, he was a heinous crime infractor. He was convicted of the rape-murder of Eileen Sarmenta and murder of her boyfriend Allan Gomez (UP students) in 1993. His six policemengoons also gang-raped Eileen. He was also convicted of the murder of father- and-son Nelson and Rickson Penalosa in 1991.
People in Calauan averred that this Sanchez, the powerful town warlord, was responsible for similar acts on Eileen on other women -and had gone scotfree- justice: Philippinestyle.
In 2010, P1.5M worth of shabu was also allegedly discovered in Sanchez’ prison cell. He used to live in luxury quarters in the Bilibid (until busted), given liberal visiting hours and wore no complete prison uniform.
Senate President Tito Sotto, in his usual “Eat Bulaga” acid humor, opined that if Sanchez had indeed become a “changed man”, the only change inside prison is that he had been pictured wearing women’s dressesa transvestite in the making?
The ex-mayor also claimed to be a devotee of Mama Mary (a statue near his bed) and had helped many people in need even while in prison. Might be true.
Unfortunately for Antonio, however, our justice system is not meted out on the basis of a “right minus wrong” criteria. Senator Frank Drilon likewise indicated that Sanchez’ refusal to pay the P12-M indemnity fee to his victims and his lack of public remorseshould, in fact, lengthen- not shorten his stay in prison.
Retired Pasig Trial Court Judge Harriet Demetrio who meted out in 1995 the 286-year prison term on Sanchez and described the crime as a “plot hatched in hell” -with Antonio as the devious Satan Mastermind said “ Secretary Salvador Panelo should resign for his “role” in Sanchez’ near release Faeldon for his participation in this “mockery of justice” and senator Bato de la Rosa who said that “Sanchez deserves a second chance.” Bato is also a former BuCor chief before running for the senate.
Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara was so exasperated that he advised the president to appoint an “outsider” to head BuCor which has lately been dramatically pried open by recent events like a can odiously -filled with worms. (On August 27, a high ranking administrative officer involved in the GBTA process Ruperto Traya was gunned down in Muntinlupa while a senator says he is close to proving that BuCor lawyer Frederic Santos is using drugs inside the Bilibid.)
Other suggestions include erecting an islandprison as impregnable and isolated as “Alcatraz” as a permanent prison for all heinous crime offenders. That way special privileges and access to the outside world are minimized and justice served appropriately.
If one recalls it was during the time of military man Fidel V. Ramos as president when the Sanchez Crime and Conviction were transpired. It was also the heydays of a brave woman judge in Demetrio who was later appointed by then- President Erap Estrada as the first female Comelec commissioner in 1999.
In convicting in 1995 Sanchez and cohorts and now in lambasting the present powers-that-be in the government, Harriet remains unafraid: “I am not afraid to die, I am ready to go any time, I am at peace with my conscience.”- as smoke seems to snortle out of her nose against her smartly spiked piece of hairdo.
A graphic representation of a woman unafraid of war. The Bureau of Corruption, as the GMA7 anchor described it, may have met its match.
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