Ex-BuCor chiefs ‘quite likely’ liable for releasing convicts – Guevarra
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday that previous Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chiefs are “quite likely” administratively liable for allowing the release of heinous crime convicts under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.
“Administratively quite likely. Administratively,” Guevarra said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ “The Source” when asked if sacked BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon and other previous bureau heads are accountable for the premature freedom of heinous felons.
Guevarra added, however: “The state is not bound by the mistakes of its agents.”
In this case, the agent of the state is BuCor.
So, was the release of the convicts a “mistake” of Faeldon or of the state?
Guevarra said: “Well not only him but of all those BuCor chiefs that interpreted the law that way.”
Guevarra said, however, that he could not make a judgment whether the law was deliberately violated.
“Break the law — not in the sense that they willfully broke the law as far as I’m concerned. Maybe they did it because that’s how they understood how the law should be applied. But nonetheless, it’s not, from my point of view, the proper way to do it,” Guevarra said.
“I cannot really make a judgment as to whether they violated the law because they proceeded from an understanding that even these PDLs [persons deprived of liberty] are included,” he added.
Nearly 2,000 heinous crime convicts were released by BuCor under the GCTA law, which increased the time subtracted from a convict’s prison term because of good behavior.
Section 3 of the law’s initial IRR states that those disqualified from availing GCTA are “an accused who is a recidivist”, “an accused who has been convicted previously twice or more than times of any crime”, and “an accused who, upon being summoned for the execution of his sentence, has failed to surrender voluntarily before a law of court.”
But RA 10592 states that “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes” are excluded from availing GCTA.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recently completed and signed a revised IRR of the GCTA law. /kga
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