CHARGES must be filed against the country’s prison chief, whom President Rodrigo R. Duterte had fired, for the botched parole of a former mayor convicted of rape and murder, an opposition senator said yesterday.
Sacked Bureau of Corrections Director-General Nicanor Faeldon was not only incompetent but also lied under oath to evade accountability for the planned early release of ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez, Senator Franklin M. Drilon said in a statement.
The former politician, who was sentenced to seven life terms in 1995 for the rape and murder of two University of the Philippines students in 1993, was not released in the end after a public outcry and a Senate investigation of the plan.
“Faeldon was caught lying through his teeth,” Mr. Drilon said. “He tried to deceive the Senate and the public. He lied over and over again to evade accountability.”
“His name has become synonymous with incompetence. His actions clearly exhibited gross inexcusable negligence and willful misconduct, if not corruption,” the lawmaker said of Mr. Faeldon, who failed it to yesterday’s Senate hearing.
Mr. Duterte on Wednesday fired Mr. Faeldon and ordered his and other prison officials’ probe by the Ombudsman for the illegal release of about 2,000 heinous crime convicts for good conduct.
“The president’s decision confirmed what the public already knew: that Faeldon lied and weaved alibis under oath to exculpate himself,” Mr. Drilon said.
The senator said Mr. Faeldon had deliberately displayed gross ignorance of the law when he allowed the release of heinous crime convicts, including convicts in the Chiong sisters rape-slay, and approved the release of Mr. Sanchez.
Mr. Drilon said the ex-prison chief had lied about stopping the early release of Mr. Sanchez after admitting under oath that he had signed a memo for his early release and other convicts.
“It is very surprising that despite the publicly documented infractions committed by Sanchez while in prison, including the drug bust and his extravagant life in his prison cell, his carpeta did not record any violation,” the lawmaker said. He urged the Senate to look into this, adding that “appropriate charges must be recommended.”
Mr. Drilon, the Senate minority leader, noted that given Mr. Faeldon’s poor public service record, he should not be given a new government post.
Mr. Faeldon headed the Bureau of Customs but was forced to resign at the height of a controversy involving the shipment of billions of pesos worth of crystal meth from China. He was reappointed to the Office of Civil Defense before heading the BuCor in 2018.
Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, another opposition senator, said Mr. Faeldon’s dismissal was “a small measure of justice.” “His dismissal is only fair, not only according to the standards of good governance but also in relation to the spirit of a good law that was abused through the clear preferential treatment of unrepentant, unqualified, yet well-connected and wealthy convicts,” she said in a statement.
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said the prison system has long been in need of cleansing and reforms. “This latest blunder over the release of criminals not covered by the good conduct time allowance is just a symptom of a much larger problem plaguing the BuCor,” he said.
“And much like he did in the Bureau of Customs, Faeldon just made the problem worse instead of fixing it.”
Mr. Gatchalian said the first step toward reforming the BuCor is to appoint a decisive leader who can reform the processes, the people, and the organization itself. “The president should appoint someone who has no previous issues of corruption or incompetence.”
Also yesterday, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he would appoint an officer in charge pending the president’s appointment of another BuCor chief.
Mr. Duterte earlier said the more or less 1,900 felons who got released for good conduct should surrender, otherwise he would order their capture “dead or alive.”
The inmates who were convicted of heinous crimes have been released since the start of the decade even if they were not supposed to be covered by the law, according to prison data.
Mr. Guevarra said the legal basis for Mr. Duterte’s order to re-arrest the convicts was is based on jurisprudence.
Their re-arrest would also not put them in double jeopardy because their return to jail would just be a continuation of the penalties they had not completely served, he said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas