‘Bato’, Faeldon also being probed by Ombudsman on GCTA mess
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires said investigations are being conducted not only on opposition figures but also former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, now a senator, and Nicanor Faeldon, a former rebel soldier.
Martires earlier said Sen. Leila de Lima and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II would be investigated if their replies failed to sufficiently explain why heinous crime convicts were removed from the list of inmates excluded from the benefits of Republic Act No. 10592, which gave birth to the now controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).
“I’m looking at everything, the liability of each of them,” said Martires in Filipino. “I’m starting from the bottom going up so I haven’t taken any action yet against those who had been bureau directors. We will come to that, I’m just starting from the bottom,” he said.
But asked if Dela Rosa and Faeldon could now be considered respondents, Martires said “no.”
“But I will require them to answer depending on who was freed, how many were freed, who recommended,” Martires said. “I’m just being thorough on everyone they released,” he added, still in Filipino.
The Ombudsman had sent letters to De Lima, who was justice secretary at the time the law on GCTA was being implemented, and Roxas, who had been in charge of the police as interior secretary.
The two were asked to explain why the implementing rules and regulations, or IRR, of the law removed heinous crime convicts on the list of inmates who would not benefit from GCTA, which became controversial after it was found that rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, sentenced to 200 years in prison, was among those on the list of prisoners to be released because of good conduct.
De Lima, who is detained on drug charges, and Roxas had already sent replies to the Ombudsman but Martires said he has yet to read these. He warned the two, however, against sarcasm in their replies which would prompt him to answer back.
“I am just asking them why is it that the prohibition in the law was not included in the IRR,” Martires said of why he wrote letters to De Lima and Roxas.
“You prepared it then explain,” he said. “If I’m satisfied with your explanation, I will stop. But if not, I will move ahead with an investigation,” Martires said in Filipino.
“But if you will be sarcastic, I will be, too,” he said. “I don’t want this to lead to misunderstanding, but like I said, if I’m forced to, I will because it’s my job,” he added.
Like Dela Rosa and Faeldon, De Lima and Roxas are not considered as respondents or resource persons in the ongoing Senate investigation of corruption at the BuCor, a can of worms opened by the GCTA scandal.
In his letter to De Lima and Roxas, Martires pointed to the difference in Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, which was amended by RA No. 10592 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III and the law’s IRR.
Section 7 of R.A. 10592 delegated the Department of Justice and Department of Interior and Local Government, then headed by De Lima and Roxas, to craft the law’s IRR.
The law barred from benefiting from GCTA are “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes”.
In her reply submitted on Tuesday, Sept. 17, De Lima said the Ombudsman should direct his question instead to the DOJ as she was no longer competent to ansewr the questions. Roxas said a close look at the IRR, particularly Rule IV, Section 6, would show that heinous crime convicts are barred from benefiting from GCTA.
It was found that at least 22,000 inmates had already been released using GCTA and 1,914 of these were convicted of heinous crimes—rape, murder, parricide, drug dealing and arson./TSB
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