An official of the Church’s prison ministry said those responsible for the early release of heinous crimes convicts should be held accountable, and being fired from their positions was insufficient.
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the prison ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said it would be a folly to act as though firing an official was any kind of solution to the scandal.
“Resignation and firing the person/s is a quick fix ‘solution’ to the problem,” Diamante said. “We should be able to make the persons who committed wrong accountable,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon amid controversy over the granting of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) to allow the early release of prison inmates. Nearly 2,000 heinous crimes convicts have been released since 2014.
On Friday, Duterte cleared Faeldon of wrongdoing, calling the former military officer an “upright man.”
Diamante said an independent investigation should take place to get to the bottom of the issue. The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday announced a probe and called on other government agencies to stop their own investigations.
“It is a lot better if an independent investigation be conducted to discover how a good law like the GCTA law was used to pursue one’s personal interest and agenda over and beyond the interest of the poor members of the prison community, who are supposed to benefit from this law,” he said.
On Friday, Sen. Leila de Lima urged her colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to improve the GCTA law instead of repealing it due to misapplication and misinterpretation to benefit favored convicts.
In her Dispatch from Crame No. 586, de Lima said she hoped that her colleagues would review the merits of Republic Act 10592, or the Expanded GCTA Law, and appreciate its original intention of applying restorative philosophy in the country’s criminal justice system.
“I humbly appeal to my colleagues in both chambers of Congress to dredge, foremost, into our collective consciousness, the merits of the GCTA Law (both the original and amendatory provisions) as rooted in the restorative philosophy or principles that underlie our modern criminal justice and correctional systems,” she said.
“Let not the legitimacy and the well-settled wisdom of the law be clouded or demolished by its misapplication, abuses in enforcement or wrongdoings on the part of the designated implementors of the law,” de Lima, a former justice secretary, added.
The implementation of the GCTA law gained nationwide attention after the now-aborted release of some 11,000 convicted inmates, including convicted rapist and murderer, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, was met with public anger. (CBCP News, PressONE.ph)