MANILA (UPDATED) - Lawmakers on Wednesday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to sack Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief, but one minority senator said the former Marine captain must no longer be "recycled" and should face charges as well.
Faeldon's tenure at the BuCor came under fire after the agency allegedly abused its power in granting good conduct time allowance to prisoners, including convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.
Faeldon said he merely followed the implementing rules of the 2013 law that expanded good conduct credits for prisoners of good standing, but several senators sensed irregularities in the law’s application, as even heinous-crime convicts were freed.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a statement that Faeldon’s sacking was “expected” as the “controversy is untenable.”
“I hope other officials will also be asked to resign,” he added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson hailed Duterte’s move to sack Faeldon and order the arrest of freed convicts.
In a statement, Lacson said these are “reasons enough for me to continue supporting President Duterte’s advocacies and programs against criminality.”
“We are like-minded in our position to give preference to the rights of victims and society at large over the rights of criminal offenders,” he said.
Minority senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan also welcomed Duterte’s move.
But Pangilinan said Faeldon must no longer be transferred to another agency and that he should be slapped with charges over the allegedly illegal release of the convicts.
Under Faeldon, the Bureau of Customs was heavily criticized after some P6.4 billion worth of shabu slipped through the agency's port inspections in May 2017.
Faeldon was transferred to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and then later on to the BuCor.
“Dapat magsilbing aral ito sa administrasyon na kapag tinanggal ang nasasangkot sa anomalya, kinakasuhan ito at hindi nililipat sa ibang ahensya para magkalat ulit ng kapalpakan,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
(This should serve as a lesson to the administration that when an official got involved in an anomaly, he should be charged and not just transferred to another agency where he could cause more trouble.)
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also expressed support for Duterte's decision to fire Faeldon.
"I sincerely believe that the President is 100% against corruption, may zero tolerance. Unfortunately, some people allow to do it, or some people allow those under them to do it." he said.
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said he supports the President's decision to order the arrest of those freed under the flawed GCTA law.
"I fully support the President’s order for the immediate re-arrest of all recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and convicts involved in heinous crimes who were released because of the wrongful application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) under Republic Act No. 10592," he said in a statement.
FIX THE LAW
Sen. Imee Marcos said the next move is for Congress to fix the law that expanded the good conduct credits for prisoners.
Sen. Joel Villanueva said he expects the Senate to come up with a list recommendations to fix the controversial law.
Sotto, Lacson, and Sen. Richard Gordon have filed a bill seeking to repeal Republic Act 10592, which introduced amendments to the Revised Penal Code and effectively expanded the good conduct credits for prisoners.
They filed Senate Bill No. 993 on Monday, even as the chamber’s justice and blue ribbon committees, led by Gordon, have yet to finish a joint inquiry into alleged irregularities in the implementation of the law.
They said while the intention of the framers of RA 10592 was noble, the measure has to be scrapped, because “it caused an absurd interpretation and its very provisions needed harmonization.”
Go, likewise, filed Senate Bill No. 1003, seeking to amend the Revised Penal Code.
RA 10592 was passed in 2013 under President Benigno Aquino III, with the goal of decongesting prisons and giving a second chance to reformed convicts. It added into the GCTA computation a convict's time while detained or period held during trial.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that this law should be applied to prison sentences given prior to its passage.
The law, based on the interpretation of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), allowed Sanchez to avail of the GCTA and be released ahead of the end of his prison term.
BuCor data, meanwhile, showed nearly 2,000 heinous crime convicts have been released since 2014, when the law was applied.
But several senators believe heinous crime convicts and those who committed grave offenses while in prison such as Sanchez do not deserve reduced prison terms.