Parole and Probation chief Manuel Co named Bureau of Corrections OIC
MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Friday that she has named lawyer Manuel G. Co, head of the Parole and Probation Administration, as officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections.
De Lima said Co would continue his regular functions as PPA chief but would also oversee the day-to-day operations of the BuCor.
BuCor Director Ernesto Diokno filed a leave of absence as the Department of Justice began investigating possible lapses committed by prison officials following an exposè by a television station that homicide convict Jose Antonio Leviste, former Batangas governor, had been making unauthorized trips outside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
De Lima’s order stated that Co’s designation as BuCor OIC “shall not include policy determination, approval of long-term contracts, and matters which by their nature are essentially within the authority of the Secretary of Justice.”
“I chose him to be the OIC because he is really competent and has a related field of expertise—pardon and parole. But he will remain under close supervision by me and Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III. I don’t want a power vacuum [in the BuCor] while Diokno is on leave,” she explained.
She said she did not want to designate a BuCor “insider” as the OIC.
“I don’t want to designate an insider because every one of them there is under a cloud of doubt,” she said.
De Lima also said if Diokno resigned or was fired, it would not mean that Co would be the permanent director, adding that Co would remain PPA administrator.
The secretary said the DoJ panel which investigated the liabilities of BuCor and NBP officials and guards regarding Leviste’s unauthorized trips was still preparing its final report.
“They are working double time. The report will pass through Undersecretary Baraan, then to me and I will submit it to the President. I need to see that the findings are comprehensive and if the recommendations are correct and ‘in sync’ with the factual findings,” she said.
“I have to prepare a memorandum covering my own insights,” she said, adding that she had the prerogative to make changes in the report. At the end of the day I’m accountable to the President,” she added.
De Lima said she was waiting for the report of the panel chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay and would go through it carefully. She said she may ask for a “little more time, maybe until Monday, to submit the report to Malacañang.”
She said the report would first identify who were responsible for the lapses and recommend reforms in the BuCor.
De Lima said there would likely be a revamp and transfers of assignments, covering all officers and regular personnel. She said even jail guards would undergo reorientation because “it is apparent that some of them are not professionals at all.”
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