No evidence to link dismissed Bureau of Corrections Director Nicanor Faeldon
to the well-entrenched “mafia” involved in the sale of good conduct credits, which was exposed following the aborted release of convicted rapist-murderer, former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, said at least three senators.
READ: I still believe in, trust Faeldon, Rody proclaims
In separate interviews over radio DWIZ on Saturday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Minority Franklin Drilon, and Senator Panfilo Lacson said there was no proof yet to support insinuations that Faeldon had links to the mafia.
Sotto, Drilon and Lacson were among the senators who grilled Thursday Yolanda Camelon, the first witness who testified on the Good Conduct Time Allowance for sale for the early release of Persons Deprived of Liberty, during the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and justice committee hearing on the controversy.
But opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros refuted the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte that sacked Faeldon was an “upright man.”
“If he’s upright, you should not have fired him from his position,” posted Hontiveros on her Facebook account.
“Was it right to release Chinese drug lords? An unrepentant rapist-murderer was almost freed,” said Hontiveros.
She advised the President to consult the dictionary for the meaning of upright,
“Get a dictionary and look up what upright means,” stated Hontiveros in her FB account.
But Sotto and Drilon noted that the President was entitled to his own opinion.
Sotto said it was difficult to say how the President felt towards the incident, but “that’s his opinion that we should not contradict.”
He said people might have different opinion. “What stuck to the mind of the President, in fairness to Usec. Faeldon, was he rejected a huge bribe from a cigarette company,” said Sotto.
“The President gave emphasis on that so until now...in the absence of proof, I understand that’s his opinion,” added Sotto.
While the existence of a mafia was established based on the testimony of Camelon, a common-law wife of an inmate at the New Bilibid Prison, Sotto conceded that Faeldon knew nothing about the illegal operation of peddling good conduct credits from P50,000 up to P1.5 million.
“There’s a possibility that he was blind-sided because he did not went (sic) inside.... he was blinded by the people around him,” said Sotto when asked if Faeldon was aware of the payoffs.
However, Sotto said it was also possible that he learned about it.
When questioned if Faeldon was off the hook, Sotto replied, “I will leave that to the committees which will come out with recommendation.”
The committees, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, will resume Monday its fourth inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the early release of PDL based on the GCTA Law.
Sotto said GCTA for sale was proven, it’s 100 percent.
“There’s no doubt. To cut the long story short, there’s no more doubt that there were indeed payoffs and money changed hands inside the New Bilibid Prison,” said Sotto.
Drilon echoed Sotto’s statement that the “GCTA for sale” was established based on the testimony of Camelon who paid P50,000 for the early release of her husband who was reportedly qualified to be freed under the good conduct credits.
“It’s clear,” responded Drilon in Filipino when questioned if money changed hands.
Drilon noted that although Camelon’s husband was set to be released from Bilibid, still, he acceded to the demand for P50,000, being helpless because those exacting bribes were involved in the computation of time allowance.
Testifying in the hearing Thursday night, Camelon told the Senate panels that she paid P50,000 on a staggered basis to Major Mabel Bansil and Staff Sgt. Ramoncito Roque sometime February and March this year.
But her husband was not released until now despite repeated promises and follow-ups.
Like Sotto, Drilon, a former justice secretary, admitted that no evidence would link Faeldon to the mafia on the GCTA for sale.
“But it’s clear there was incompetence or negligence for having failed to catch this kind of anomaly happening under his very nose,” pointed out Drilon.
He said the former Marine captain was incompetent as head of the BuCor.
“Being the head, these things should not have happened if he was strict in running the agency,” said Drilon.
Since Faeldon signed the release order of the more than 1,900 PDLs, he should be held liable.
He said Faeldon acted on his own and did not follow Department Order 953 which clearly states that any release order for PDLs serving life sentence should have the approval of the Secretary of Justice, in this case, Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
He said it was now up to the Ombudsman to ascertain the charges that should be filed against Faeldon.
For his part, Lacson said that based on the evidence that came out (Thursday night), no direct evidence pointed that Faeldon was into the corruption.
“Unless, we will have an evidence to show that money was handed directly to Faeldon. It’s the only time we can say that he’s included,” said Lacson in the same radio interview.
Lacson said there were pieces of information the payoffs went “all the way to the top.”
“But proving it is another matter,” admitted Lacson, who had earlier accused Faeldon of receiving P100,000 “welcome gift” upon assumption as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.
Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima said the question of how Sanchez managed to have a spotless record all throughout his imprisonment inside Bilibid, remained a mystery.
“I was told this was not answered by BuCor officials during the Senate hearings, least of all by sacked BuCor Director-General Nicanor Faeldon,” she said.
She emphasized that the assassination of BuCor official Ruperto Traya Jr., whose division is in charge of processing and computing the GCTA of inmates, at the start of the Faeldon-Sanchez scandal was too much of a coincidence.
She hinted that Traya was assassinated for his knowledge on the fabrication of inmates’ records by his division.
“Most plausibly, he posed a danger to those responsible for tidying up the inmates’ records, including that of Sanchez, as a potential whistleblower,” said the detained senator, who also served as Justice secretary.
She said Inmates’ Documents Processing Division of the BuCor must be immediately investigated while the murder of Traya and Faeldon’s attempt to release Sanchez were still fresh in the public’s mind.
“The question of who ordered Traya’s killing and how this is connected to the ‘GCTA for Sale’ syndicate at the BuCor must be convincingly and conclusively answered if we are to give justice to the victims of convicted criminals being prematurely or wrongfully released not because of a problem in the GCTA Law, but because of this most despicable kind of corruption at the BuCor,” said De Lima.
According to De Lima, the real problem in this whole scandal is the corruption of BuCor officials and the BuCor syndicate.
“Faeldon is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the BuCor syndicate must be exposed and all its members investigated and prosecuted immediately,” she further stated.
Meanwhile, Sotto and Drilon said those implicated in the mafia should be placed under preventive suspension while an investigation is ongoing.
When asked if Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who was BuCor director before Faeldon, should also be investigated, Drilon reiterated his colleague’s statement that he should be ready to face (any investigation).
READ: Ombudsman takes over Faeldon-BuCor probe
READ: Faeldon has to go—Duterte