DOJ chief: ‘Bato’ eyed BuCor authority to release convicts
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday bared that then-Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa had requested that the authority to release persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) be delegated to the Bucor head.
“There was this letter coming from the Bureau of Corrections sometime in 2018 requesting that the authority to release PDLs on account of expired sentences be delegated to the BuCor chief,” Guevarra told the Senate committee on justice hearing on the controversy surrounding the early release of heinous crime convicts because of good conduct.
When Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, asked who signed the letter, Guevarra said he had no copy of the said letter.
But the DOJ chief surmised that the letter was signed by a “higher authority” from the BuCor.
When Gordon pressed, however, Guevarra said that the request came from now-Senator Dela Rosa.
“According to the draft memorandum addressed to me—this was only a draft— but it made mention of a memorandum dated June 4, 2018, from Usec Dela Rosa, director-general of BuCor, requesting for the grant of authority for the director-general to approve or act on the following requests enumerated in Department of Order 953,” said Guevarra.
“So nakalista but the first and foremost is the release of PDLs with expired sentences. No action was taken by the DOJ,” Guevarra added.
Under the Department Order he earlier mentioned, an inmate sentenced to reclusion perpetua could not be released without prior approval of the Justice Secretary.
Dela Rosa explained why he made the request to DOJ.
“Because we are the ones being charged criminally by the PDLs for failure to release them on time and not the DOJ,” he said when sought for comment.
Dismissed BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon admitted that he did not seek the Justice Secretary’s approval when he recently signed a memorandum for the release of heinous crime convicts, including former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.
Sanchez was convicted for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta, and the killing of her friend and schoolmate, Allan Gomez. /gsg
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