MANILA - Some P1 billion allocated for the improvement of at least 4 regional correctional facilities were not released after former Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon tried to realign the funds to his home province, Senate Finance Committee chair Sonny Angara said Wednesday.
The fund was originally earmarked for prisons in Palawan, Davao, Leyte and Zamboanga, but Faeldon wrote to the committee to “transfer” the money to Sablayan, Mindoro, Angara said.
“He even wrote the committee asking for the realignment. We told him it was improper to do that,” Angara said when asked about the delayed disbursement during the Department of Justice’s budget deliberation in the Senate.
“That’s the reason why the P1 billion was not released right away,” he said.
Faeldon, who was born in Batanes, has been residing in Mindoro, the home province of his wife. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the sacked BuCor chief wanted to run for Mindoro governor in the 2019 elections.
Faeldon, a former Marine captain who once led uprisings against government, was earlier linked to corruption during his time as Bureau of Customs chief but denied the allegations.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon slammed Faeldon for his “terrible” attempt to maneuver the budget.
“That is terrible... Mr. Faeldon has absolutely no business asking for a realignment. A bureau director has no business asking the realignment of a program,” he said.
Drilon asked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to “officially withdraw” Faeldon’s letter to Congress as the request was “totally improper.”
The improvement of regional prisons could have been the “starting point” of decongestion at the crowded national penitentiary, Drilon said.
The occupancy rate in prison facilities in the country has reached 612 percent, the Commission on Audit noted in its 2017 report.
Duterte sacked Faeldon in September after the former soldier approved the release of several prisoners convicted of heinous crimes.
Prior to his BuCor appointment, Faeldon headed the Bureau of Customs. Under his watch, about P6.4-billion worth of shabu slipped past the BOC, triggering a Senate investigation.