Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa admitted signing the release orders of 120 heinous crimes convicts after the Office of the Ombudsman revealed that he is among the officials who will be investigated regarding the anomalous implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
A ranking administration lawmaker, Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr., made the revelation yesterday during the plenary hearing at the House of Representatives.
“As mentioned, all present and past officials are now under investigation,” Jalosjos replied to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate as he defended the budget of the Ombudsman.
Bato was the former chief of Philippine National Police (PNP) and briefly became the director general of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) before his position now as one of the neophyte lawmakers.
According to Jalosjos, it was the ombudsman who initiate the investigation of the anomaly of the bulk release of heinous crime convicts with the application of the GCTA law or the Republic Act 10592.
“30 officials are now being investigated,” Jalosjos mentioned in his revelation after consulting with Ombudsman Samuel Martires who gave the nod before the plenary happened.
“Yes. All present and past [officials of BuCor] are now under investigation,” Jalosjos added.
Bato, however, seemed unfazed after hearing the news of him being linked to the GCTA law anomalies.
“No problem. I’ve nothing to hide. I’m not worried, and I’ve a clear conscience,” he said.
Dela Rosa said that during his stay at the BuCor, those alleged people behind “GCTA for sale” rackets were probably afraid to do their illegal activities under his administration or really good at hiding it under the radar.
However, the neophyte senator admitted that he signed the release of about 120 heinous crimes convicts during his leadership from April to October last year.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed during a Senate hearing that Bato asked him in 2018 for the power to release those convicts.
Investigating Nicanor Faeldon
Zarate also asked during the plenary session at the House if former BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon is on the list of officials who would be investigated by the ombudsman.
“Yes, he is included,” Jalosjos replied and added that the ombudsman does not only look on the administrative liability of the BuCor officials but also their criminal culpability.
Therefore, as Faeldon was already fired from the agency, he was spared from administrative penalties but could still be held criminally liable through the findings of the ombudsman.
Faeldon, meanwhile, accepts the investigation by the ombudsman through his Twitter account.
“I welcome the ombudsman’s investigation on the GCTA PDL releases. I will fully cooperate and face the charge/s to be filed against me, in any,” the tweet read.
BuCor officials and their freed prisoners
Jalosjos further explained that prison officials from 2014 up to present will be included in the investigation referencing the time BuCor started the wholesale release of inmates under the GCTA law.
“It is possible that they will be included on top of the 30, who are now being investigated, upon the findings in the evidence,” Jalosjos said.
Earlier this week after the controversy ignited, Ombudsman Martires just gave a six-month preventive suspension for 30 BuCor officials.
The BuCor admitted that they have release 1,914 inmates including heinous crime convicts.
This provoked President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Faeldon for supposedly disobeying his order.
Last week, Duterte gave the freed inmates 15 days to surrender and register with BuCor.
Upon failure to comply, these inmates will be considered fugitives of the Republic of the Philippines.