De Lima tells Ombudsman: Ask DOJ about GCTA’s IRR
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to direct its query about the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as she is no longer with the said agency.
According to De Lima’s official letter to Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Tuesday, questions about Republic Act No. 10592’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) should instead be forwarded to incumbent Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“First of all, I would like to clarify that I am no longer the Secretary of Justice. I am now a Senator of the Republic. I cannot, in my official capacity as a senator, reply to a query that exclusively pertains to the official business of the Department of Justice,” the opposition senator explained.
“I therefore suggest that your good office require the explanation you are demanding from me to the office of Secretary Guevarra,” she added.
Last September 10, letters signed by Martires sent to De Lima and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II were released to the media. In the letters, the two were asked to explain and/or clarify why the IRR has removed heinous crime convicts were removed from the list of inmates not qualified for the GCTA.
This was contrary to what R.A. 10592 — which amended Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code — stated. Both De Lima and Roxas, as justice and interior secretaries, were tasked by Section 7 of R.A. 10592 to craft the IRR.
The Ombudsman is currently probing the anomalous release of prisoners, after it was reported that 1,914 out of the 22,049 inmates freed have been convicted of heinous crimes like rape, murder, parricide, and drug-related charges.
The supposed GCTA-for-sale scheme was brought to light after former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon signed the release papers of former Caluan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for raping and killing student Eileen Sarmenta in 1993.
Faeldon was sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly not following his orders to prohibit the release of heinous crime convicts.
De Lima, currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame over drug raps, also said that she cannot answer properly given her current state, as she does not have any access to the relevant officials who helped in ratifying the IRR.
She also reminded Martires that if she is being asked to clarify as a respondent, she — as a senator — is not under the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction, according to Section 21 of R.A. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
Various officials have claimed that the GCTA’s IRR was not properly scrutinized during the time of De Lima and Roxas.
However, De Lima has questioned the request to explain the GCTA mess, saying it was seemingly intended to pin the blame on her and Roxas for a controversy that they were never involved with.
Guevarra said in a message to reporters that they would not dwell on an “unproductive blame game”.
“We at the DOJ won’t dwell on things that had come to pass, much less waste our time on an unproductive blame game,” he said.
“The revised IRR reflects our best interpretation of RA 10592 as it was actually crafted, finalized, and signed. The current DOJ has done its part. Let congress do its own,” he added. /je
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