Duterte's anti-corruption body to leave no stone unturned in GCTA probe, but won't touch Bato
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa talking with Sens. Bong Go and Juan Miguel Zubiri at the Senate hearing into the implementation of the Sugar Industry Development Act on Aug. 15, 2019.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo

Duterte's anti-corruption body to leave no stone unturned in GCTA probe, but won't touch Bato

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - September 8, 2019 - 6:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission on Sunday said it would investigate all Bureau of Corrections leaders involved in the implementation of the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance law since 2014.

PACC chief Manny Luna, however, said they would not probe former BuCor chief and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, because they have no authority to do so.

The planned probe comes days after Duterte fired BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon after approving the release of convicts who committed heinous crimes.

Duterte also ordered the ombudsman to investigate BuCor officials involved in these releases.

“Kasi walang law na pinasa ang Congress empowering the PACC to investigate a sitting lawmaker. Kahit congressman hindi naming puwedeng imbestigahan e, because of the separation of powers,” Luna said.

(There is no law approved by the Congress empowering the PACC to investigate a sitting lawmaker. Even a congressman we cannot investigate, because of the separation of powers.)

Luna furthered that the PACC is an executive agency while Dela Rosa belongs to the lawmaking arm of the government.

“Under the separation of powers principle in the Constitution, bawal ho kami manghimasok sa (we are not allowed to meddle in) Congress whether it’s a senator or Congressman pero ang (but the) ombudsman may (has) power,” the PACC chief said.

“For 2 reasons — one, mayroong batas (there is a law) — ‘yung (the) Ombudsman Act, empowering the ombudsman to investigate even those in the other departments of government,” he added.

The anti-corruption commission is only allowed to investigate presidential appointees while the ombudsman can launch a probe even without a complaint.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Dela Rosa’s signing of release papers when he was a BuCor chief should also be investigated for potential irregularities.

Panelo, however, said someone should file a complaint against Dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa served as BuCor chief from May to October in 2018 and admitted to signing the release of around 120 heinous crime convicts.

House justice committee chairperson Vicente Veloso also previously said predecessors of sacked Faeldon should also be liable for the release of heinous crime convicts.

Almost 2,000 heinous crimes have been freed by BuCor since 2014 due to the implementation of the GCTA law, a penal act reducing the sentences of inmates for the good behavior they displayed while incarcerated.

These releases were facilitated by the following BuCor chiefs who were predecessors of Faeldon:

  • Franklin Jesus Bucayu - March 2013 to April 2015

  • Ricardo Rainier Cruz III - June 2015 to 2016

  • Benjamin Delos Santos - November 2016 to July 2017

  • Valfrie Tablan - September 2017 to May 2018

  • Dela Rosa - May 2018 to October 2018

  • Faeldon – October 2018 to September 2019

BJMP officials may also face probe

Luna said that aside from these BuCor officials, officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, an attached agency of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, might also be implicated in the alleged anomalies in the implementation of the GCTA.

Last Thursday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires advised the PACC to take its hands off the investigation into the BuCor’s application of GCTA law.

"In order to avoid any possible conflicting findings, agencies such as the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which announced its intent to also investigate the matter, should defer to the jurisdiction of the ombudsman," Martires said in a statement.

Martires said “the investigators have already obtained raw data and pertinent documents from the BuCor.” He added that the Office of the Ombudsman is also gathering data from the Department of Justice, Senate and other relevant agencies.

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