Senate probe into GCTA mess should focus on alleged corruption, says Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee probe into the early release of heinous crime convicts under a law on good conduct credit should focus on issues of the alleged corruption surrounding its implementation, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“Ngayon lumalabas na sa hearings na napakarami iyong allegations of corruption. So dapat sana iyong sentro ng hearing, iyon,” Robredo told reporters at the Senate after her office’s budget hearing on Monday.
“Sana iyong sentro ng hearing, tingnan ano ba iyong mga korapsyon na nagaganap at bakit siya nagaganap?,” she added.
The Senate justice committee’s investigation into the alleged irregularities within the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was prompted after public outrage over the near release of rape and murder convict former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.
Sanchez and his six henchmen were sentenced to seven life sentences for the murder of two University of the Philippines-Los Baños students in 1993.
The law’s implementing rules and regulation (IRR) had been blamed for the confusion on whether heinous crime convicts could be granted good conduct time allowance.
The Office of the Ombudsman had already asked former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former justice chief and now Senator Leila de Lima to clarify the law’s IRR.
Roxas and De Lima were among those who crafted the IRR.
“Iyong sa akin kasi, dapat ang tanong: ano ba iyong dahilan kung bakit nagka-loko-loko iyong application ng GCTA? Is it because of the law o dahil ba ito sa implementation ng law?,” Robredo went on.
“Mayroon silang sinasabi na dahil iyong IRR ng batas hindi kasali sa exceptions iyong heinous crimes,” she added.
But the vice president noted that a department order was issued in 2015 by then Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa to “fill in” the gap the IRR may have had.
Under Department Order 953, prior approval from the justice secretary is needed before any inmate convicted of a heinous crime is released.
“So ang tanong ngayon, kaya ba makakalabas sina Mayor Sanchez sana dahil ba doon sa batas o dahil sa implementation ng batas?,” she pointed out.
“Mahirap na ilihis ito kasi kapag nalihis siya sa tunay na pangyayari, baka paulit-ulit na mangyari ulit, na iyong focus nandoon na sa sino iyong gumawa ng IRR, hindi na doon sa sino ba iyong mga involved sa korapyson kaya nangyayari iyong mga ganitong pagkakataon,” she added.
Asked if she thinks Roxas and De Lima should be given the opportunity to explain their side, Robredo said: “Hindi lang mabigyan ng chance, pero kung talagang may pagkukulang iyong batas, i-correct.”
“Pero sana, hindi mawala iyong investigation doon sa allegations of corruption, saka iyong sa bakit nangyayari ito sa pag-implement ng batas,” she added.