Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said it is also possible that details on the erased text messages and call logs from the mobile phones of two BuCor officials may be received by the committee this week from the National Bureau of Investigation and could pin down bureau officials on the alleged “GCTA for sale” racket.
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Senate set to release ‘GCTA for sale’ report
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is expected to release this week its partial report on its ongoing inquiry into the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) controversial release of heinous crime convicts in implementing the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law, Sen. Richard Gordon said yesterday.

Gordon, chairman of the committee, said it is also possible that details on the erased text messages and call logs from the mobile phones of two BuCor officials may be received by the committee this week from the National Bureau of Investigation and could pin down bureau officials on the alleged “GCTA for sale” racket.

“We hope we could already have a partial report this week that we could report out to the committee,” the senator said in a telephone interview.

The inquiry, which was triggered by release of several high-profile inmates and Chinese drug traffickers, is jointly conducted by the committee on justice and human rights, also chaired by Gordon.

The inquiry is expected to resume on Thursday even as a joint technical working group of the two panels, along with the committees on constitutional amendments, and revision of codes; and finance, is set to convene today to consolidate various bills seeking to amend Republic Act 10592 or the GCTA Law.

In a separate statement, Gordon said the law “provided the opportunity for the python to enter the poultry park and kill everything there.”

“The GCTA Law provided another money-making scheme or opportunities for corruption in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and other penitentiaries, where everything is already ‘buyable,’” he said.

The law, enacted in 2013 and implemented retroactively, allows the reduction of sentences by as much as 19 years based on a formula that tallies a convict’s “good behavior.”

At least one minimum security inmate from the NBP testified last week, accusing some BuCor officials of asking P50,000 for his release using the GCTA. Three BuCor officials, including one prison doctor, were cited in contempt last Thursday and detained at the Senate in connection with the alleged corruption.

Also summoned to the coming hearing are former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who was mentioned as complaining that Department of Justice (DOJ) officials had blocked him from leading a surprise raid at the NBP for drugs and other contraband when he was still with the Philippine National Police in 2014.

Gordon said the invitation for detained Sen. Leila de Lima, who is also a former justice secretary, will be “down the road.”

The DOJ has supervision over the BuCor.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the inquiry exposed many loopholes in the law as well weaknesses in the prison system that need to be addressed immediately.

Aside from amendments to the GCTA law—to include removing discretion from BuCor officials—Lacson said the government must invest heavily in technology to minimize human intervention in running prisons.

He cited reports from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency that 80 percent of drug trafficking in the country is directed from the NBP. 

BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS GOOD CONDUCT TIME ALLOWANCE LAW SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE
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