Now that former Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon has been sacked as a result of the Good Conduct Time Allowance controversy, should the public’s collective anger be appeased?
Foremost, President Rodrigo Duterte has again expressed his trust and confidence in Faeldon despite everything that has happened. We find this both shocking and intriguing. What spectacular luck for a man to continue to enjoy the President’s good favor after a series of failures, first at the Bureau of Customs with P6.4 billion worth of crystal meth finding its way into the streets, and then again at the Bureau of Customs where the sentences of nearly 2,000 convicts of heinous crimes were adjusted to reflect “good conduct,” which enabled them to walk free.
Second, the problem is bigger than Faeldon. The absurd and apparently anomalous implementation of the law has been going on since its passage in 2013. How many other prison chiefs and other officials have been involved, either through direct involvement or fantastical cluelessness?
Third, and this is the biggest challenge for Mr. Duterte, one of the former chiefs of the bureau is a man loyal to him and who helped implement his war against illegal drugs—through whatever means. Ronald dela Rosa was rewarded through Mr. Duterte’s endorsement and personal campaign efforts in last May’s election—he is now a senator.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed that Dela Rosa, when he assumed his BuCor post, wrote to seek authority to release inmates with lapsed sentences including those sentenced to life imprisonment, or 40 years.
Under department rules, inmates with expired sentences may be released with just the BuCor’s approval. The cases of those given life sentences, however, still require the DOJ’s approval. Guevarra said the agency did not act on Dela Rosa’s request.
Dela Rosa served as BuCor chief from April to October last year. Despite his abbreviated stint, he also approved the release of some 120 individuals convicted of heinous crimes. This is the same controversy that shed light on the issue in the first place.
We could imagine Dela Rosa employing his usual histrionics and crying that people are out to disrespect or malign him.
But the President, if he really intends to be perceived as serious in his fight against corruption, must pose no barriers to getting to the root of this well-oiled, entrenched anomaly existing in the very place meant to reform and rehabilitate hardened criminals.
Officials should be held accountable for their actions not only in their present posts but in all other posts they held prior to where they are, no matter how they got there, and no matter who helped them get there.