Mar Roxas: Donât blame IRR on GCTA
Earlier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires asked Roxas and Sen. Leila de Lima to explain why the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for GCTA law that they helped craft as Cabinet officials of the previous administration still qualifies convicts of heinous crimes for early release.
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Mar Roxas: Don’t blame IRR on GCTA

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the Office of the Ombudsman awaits his explanation of his role in the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) controversy, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II said he welcomed the prospect of being investigated but expressed suspicion that the probe was meant to divert public attention from the culprits.

In his Twitter account, Roxas said the ones who should be investigated are the officials who approved the release of heinous crime convicts, as well as those who gave the convicts GCTA credits.

Earlier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires asked Roxas and Sen. Leila de Lima to explain why the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for GCTA law that they helped craft as Cabinet officials of the previous administration still qualifies convicts of heinous crimes for early release.

At a press conference Tuesday night, President Duterte said Roxas and De Lima should explain the law’s IRR, which, he added, was “hazy.”

“They were the ones who crafted the law during their time. They approved the IRR. So let’s ask them, ‘Why did you craft it like that?’ That’s not ours. Now we get the flak. For what?” Duterte said at a press conference Tuesday night.

“You should have placed that in a clear and accurate manner so that there will be no room for mistake. Because if you place it where – and there are two interpretations of the law, that is not proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.

Duterte said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had announced a plan to go to the Supreme Court for proper interpretation of the law.

“If that is the Guevarra statement, then it would tell you that the law is hazy,” he added.

The GCTA law was signed into law in 2013 while its IRR was completed in March 2014.

The anti-graft body is conducting a fact-finding probe on the alleged “GCTA-for-sale” that supposedly allowed some heinous crime convicts to walk free.

Duterte earlier said he suspects that there was corruption in the implementation of the law and that some inmates may have bribed officials to secure their release. He has called on the nearly 2,000 heinous crime convicts released early under GCTA to surrender.

The ombudsman has also ordered the suspension of 30 corrections officials over the GCTA controversy.

Duterte asked the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to give way to the ombudsman investigation. PACC earlier announced plans to conduct a separate probe on the controversy.

The President said he would allow the release of inmates who have undergone proper processes. He stressed that government personnel, not prisoners, should be the subjects of investigation. “They (inmates) might be potential witnesses,” he said.

The President also expressed readiness to provide transport fare and temporary shelters to freed convicts who are staying in areas far from Manila.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, will form a task force that will review the cases of elderly and ailing inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to see if they can already be freed, Sen. Christopher Go said yesterday.

Go said he sought the creation of the task force after receiving reports of the plight of sick and aging convicts at the minimum security compound at the NBP, which the senator visited on Monday.

He said these inmates lamented that the rich convicts are the ones being released first apparently because of connections and money.

“They’re still there, close to death and they have no money, even to pay for photocopying documents. So all those qualified inmates, convicts, we’ll look at all their records if they can be due for release,” he told reporters in Filipino.

He said he also asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to look into the feasibility of using overstocked medicines in government warehouses to be used by the NBP Hospital.

He said the NBP hospital apparently caters only to rich convicts, who reportedly pay corrupt officials to have them confined even if not ill, in an alleged “hospital pass for sale” racket.

‘Killer’ needed

Go said President Duterte is very exasperated by the rampant corruption at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and was looking for a retired military or police officer to head it after firing last week its former chief, Nicanor Faeldon.

“You want to know who I want to recommend to head the BuCor? A killer. The one who will head the BuCor should be a killer,” the senator said, in expressing his disgust over reports emanating from the bureau.

He, however, declined to elaborate on what he meant but indicated that he already has someone in mind.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, will resume its inquiry today into the controversies at the BuCor.

A new witness, whom Go described as a former government official, is expected to testify on what he knows about corruption in BuCor and the continued drug trafficking at the NBP.

The witness was brought to the Senate premises yesterday for his security, and met Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Go and Gordon.

Also expected to be taken up at the hearing is the result of the forensic examination of the mobile phones taken from some BuCor officials accused last week by an inmate in the minimum security compound and his common-law wife of receiving P50,000 in exchange for the convict’s freedom.

Text messages and call logs were found to have been erased before they were subpoenaed by the committee. – With Alexis Romero

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