Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr. made the revelation during the plenary hearing at the House of Representatives when he defended the budget of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman probing Bato dela Rosa over freed inmates
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is among the officials being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law anomaly, a ranking administration lawmaker said yesterday.

Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr. made the revelation during the plenary hearing at the House of Representatives when he defended the budget of the Office of the Ombudsman.

“As mentioned, all present and past officials are now under investigation,” Jalosjos replied to interpellation of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate during the budget hearing.

Dela Rosa was former national police chief and briefly served as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general before getting elected to the Senate last May.

Jalosjos said the ombudsman took the initiative to investigate the anomaly surrounding the wholesale release of inmates convicted of heinous crimes in the implementation of the GCTA law, or Republic Act 10592.

According to Jalosjos, “30 officials are now being investigated.”

Jalosjos, House appropriations committee vice chair and sponsor of the budget of the Office of the Ombudsman, made the revelation before the plenary after consulting with Ombudsman Samuel Martires who gave the nod.

“Yes. All present and past (officials of BuCor) are now under investigation,” Jalosjos said.

Dela Rosa, on the other hand, seemed unfazed after learning he was to be included in the investigation by the ombudsman.

“No problem. I’ve nothing to hide. I’m not worried, and I’ve a clear conscience,” he said.

Dela Rosa said either those behind the so-called “GCTA for sale” racket in BuCor were afraid to do their illicit activities under his watch, or were really good in doing it under the radar.

Dela Rosa earlier admitted signing the release orders of about 120 inmates convicted of heinous crimes when he was the prisons chief from April to October last year.

In Senate hearing, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed Dela Rosa in 2018 had asked the department to grant him the power to release heinous crime convicts.

Guevarra revealed Dela Rosa wrote to the DOJ on June 4, 2018 asking that the authority to release persons deprived of liberty (PDL) with expired sentences be delegated to him.

During the plenary session at the House, Zarate also asked if former BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon will be included in the investigation of the ombudsman.

Jalosjos, after consulting with Martires, also said yes.

“Yes, he is included (in the investigation),” Jalosjos replied, adding that the ombudsman is looking not just on administrative liability of BuCor officials but also on their criminal culpability.

This means the removal of Faeldon from office had spared him from administrative penalties but he could still be held criminally liable, depending on findings of the ombudsman.

Jalosjos explained further that the probe includes “previous officials from 2014, prison officials from 2014 up to the present” in reference to the time BuCor started releasing inmates even if they are not qualified under the GCTA Law.

“It is possible that they will be included on top of the 30, who are now being investigated, upon the findings in the evidence,” he said.

Faeldon, for his part, said he welcomes the investigation by the ombudsman.

Faeldon posted in his Twitter account that he will cooperate with the probe and face the consequences.

“I welcome the ombudsman’s investigation on the GCTA PDL releases. I will fully cooperate and face the charge/s to be filed against me, in any,” the tweet read.
Ombudsman Martires earlier this week ordered the six-month preventive suspension of 30 officials of BuCor following the controversy.

The GCTA law came into the limelight after the public outrage on the supposed botched release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez.
During the Senate inquiry into the issue, an inmate’s wife pointed to BuCor official Ramoncito Roque who allegedly demanded P50,000 for an early release.

The BuCor earlier said they have released 1,914 inmates, most of them convicted of heinous crimes, due to the GCTA.

The uproar prompted President Duterte to step into the mess and fired Faeldon for supposedly disobeying his order.

Duterte last week ordered the released prisoners to surrender and register with BuCor within 15 days or they would be considered fugitives. – With Edu Punay, Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Emmanuel Tupas, Evelyn Macairan, Ralph Edwin Villanueva

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