Ombudsman teams now probing mess in prisoners’ release
MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman has sent teams to investigate allegations that corruption was behind the release of inmates serving time for heinous crimes.
In a statement on Thursday (Sept. 5), the Ombudsman said investigators had already obtained initial information on irregularities in the implementation of Republic Act No. 10592, which calculates the good conduct time allowance of prisoners.
The statement said the move was “pursuant” to Ombudsman Samuel Martires’ order to “prioritize complaints involving grave offenses.”
It said investigators have already “obtained raw data and pertinent documents” about irregularities in the release of prisoners from jail by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Documents are being gathered from the Department of Justice, other agencies and the Senate, which is investigating irregularities in good conduct time releases of inmates, including rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.
The Ombudsman move came after President Rodrigo Duterte fired Nicanor Faeldon as BuCor chief. Faeldon signed the release order for at least 1,700 convicts and pending orders to release 10,000 more, including Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan town, Laguna province.
Sanchez had been sentenced to at least 200 years imprisonment for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, both UP Los Banos students, and the murders of two political opponents.
Duterte had ordered the Ombudsman to investigate all BuCor officials involved in the release of convicts on good conduct, which senators said had been for sale.
Martires reminded other agencies seeking to investigate the BuCor mess that if the Ombudsman assumes jurisdiction, it would have the sole authority to probe the issue.
“Since the Ombudsman has assumed jurisdiction over the is case, no other agency is allowed to conduct a parallel investigation unless so authorized by the Ombudsman pursuant to law,” Martires said in the Ombudsman statement.
In an interview with dzMM on Thursday night, Martires said the Ombudsman still has jurisdiction over Faeldon although the former rebel soldier had been fired already by Duterte.
He said even past BuCor officials, including now Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Faeldon’s predecessor at BuCor, would be covered by the investigation.
“We cannot give special treatment to former general Bato Dela Rosa,” he said.
Martires also warned BuCor officials against trying to obstruct the investigation.
“Let them try to bar us from entry, let them try not to give us access to documents,” Martires warned.
“All those who would obstruct the investigation would be included in the investigation,” he said./TSB
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