VP: Senate probe on GCTA should focus on BuCor corruption
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate probe into the early release of heinous crime convicts under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law focus on the alleged corruption surrounding its implementation, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“So many allegations of corruption have out during the hearings. So that the hearings should center on that,” Robredo told reporters in Filipino at the Senate on Monday after the hearing on the budget of her office for 2020.
The Senate justice committee started its investigation into the alleged BuCor irregularities prompted by public outrage over the near release of rape and murder convict Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan town in Laguna.
Sanchez and his six henchmen were sentenced to seven 40-year sentences for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, both University of the Philippines-Los Baños students, in 1993.
The implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the law had been blamed for the confusion on whether heinous crime convicts would be eligible to the GCTA.
The Office of the Ombudsman has already asked former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Sen. Leila de Lima, who was justice secretary when the law took effect, to clarify the law’s IRR.
Roxas and De Lima were among those who crafted the IRR.
“For me, the question should be: What are the reasons behind the faulty application of the GCTA? Is it because of the law or is it because of the implementation of the law?”
She noted that claims that some heinous crime suspect being released because the IRR did not exclude them from the GCTA.
But she pointed out that the Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa issued Department Order 953 in 2015 by “fill in” the gap the IRR might have had.
Under the order, the justice secretary would have to approve any proposed release of a heinous crime convict.
The question, she said, was whether heinous crime suspects were released because of the law itself or because of its wrong implementation.
The investigation, she added, could be sidetracked into focusing on who made the law instead of on the corruption that allowed its wrong application.
Asked if Roxas and De Lima should be given the opportunity to explain their side, Robredo said: “Not only should they be given a chance, but they should also correct the law if there are any loopholes on it.”
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