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Duterte orders jail revamp due to corruption

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PHILSTAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered a revamp of the country’s jail system due to corruption, his spokesman said yesterday.

Bureau of Correction guards at the national jail in Muntinlupa City would be transferred to the provinces, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo told reporters.

“It’s a total revamp,” the spokesman said, adding that the president would remove all officials and workers at the BuCor headquarters in Muntinlupa.

Mr. Duterte ordered the overhaul “because of the corruption there,” Mr. Panelo said “He wants to stop it.”

The president earlier fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor E. Faeldon after he allowed the illegal release of about 2,000 ineligible felons for good conduct. The president also ordered an investigation of prison officials by the Ombudsman for corruption.

The Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of about 30 jail officials in connection with the botched release of ineligible prisoners.




Less than 700 felons convicted of heinous crimes have surrendered. The Justice department has said police would re-arrest the rest of them without a warrant if they fail to surrender by Sept. 19.

The Justice department and Department of Interior and Local Government earlier this week issued the revised rules implementing the law on the early release of inmates for good conduct.

The law disqualifies convicts of heinous crimes from early release, but the prisoners were freed in the absence of a counterpart provision in the old implementing rules.

Under the new rules, all recidivists, escapees, habitual delinquents and convicts of heinous crimes are excluded from the program. Heinous crimes include murder, rape, destructive arson, parricide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and violations of certain provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Also yesterday, Justice Secretary Menardo I Guevarra called new BuCor Director-General Gerald Q. Bantag to fix anomalies at the bureau.

“I told him to focus on three major objectives, in order of urgency. No. 1, clean up the good conduct time allowance mess,” the Justice chief said, referring to a program that releases prisoners earlier for good conduct. He also asked the new chief to fully computerize the jail system and stop illegal drug trade inside prisons, he said.

Mr. Bantag was the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology regional director in Region 4 before he was appointed by Mr. Duterte on Tuesday.

The former jail warden has been accused in the murder of 10 inmates after a grenade attack inside his office in 2016.

Meanwhile, three BuCor officials have asked the Court of Appeals to order their release from the Senate after they were cited in contempt by the blue ribbon committee and detained there for allegedly lying under oath.

The BuCor legal chief Fredric Santos, document chief Ramoncito Roque and Bilibid Hospital doctor Ursicio Cenas filed a petition for habeas corpus — a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court.

“There is absolutely no factual or legal basis for the order citing the petitioners in contempt,” according to a copy of their petition.

Opposition Senator Franklin M. Drilon earlier said Mr. 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.

The release of 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 suspended after a public outcry and a Senate investigation of the plan.

Mr. Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the reported sale of hospital passes to inmates at the Bureau of Corrections.

The Justice chief had also ordered a separate probe of corruption at the bureau after reports that parole grants have become for sale.

During a Senate hearing early this month, a witness accused some prison officials of promising families of convicts to release them earlier for a fee. — Gillian M. Cortez

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