3 BuCor execs face graft, direct bribery raps over GCTA controversy

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2020 11:10 AM | Updated as of Jan 29 2020 07:08 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Three Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials will face direct bribery and graft charges in connection with a P50,000 bribe they supposedly demanded and received for the release of an inmate over the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

In two resolutions dated Jan. 20, Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the filing of the cases against Inmate Documents and Processing Section Officer-In-Charge Ramoncito Roque, Senior Insp. Maria Belinda Bansil and Corrections Officer Veronica Buño before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.

The officials were found to have demanded and received P50,000 from one Yolanda Camilon in exchange for the early release of her partner from prison through the GCTA law. 

“Camilon’s lone testimony, given in a straightforward manner, pitted against respondents’ denials and conflicting statements in their counter-affidavits, is sufficient to establish probable cause for direct bribery against Roque, Bansil and Buño,” the Ombudsman said.

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The investigation of the Ombudsman on the GCTA mess followed the aborted release of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Congressional investigations on the GCTA, which grants the early release of inmates on account of good behavior, had bared that the system had become corrupt, with heinous crime convicts given the privilege even if disqualified under the law. 

Aside from the criminal charges, the three were also found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and were ordered dismissed from service.

They were also slapped with forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility, bar from taking civil service examinations, as well as perpetual disqualification from public office.

“Their acts of demanding and receiving money from a PDL (person deprived of liberty) or his wife prejudiced the image and integrity of their office as it would create a public perception of corruption and incompetence in the BuCor,” the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman added that in the event that the penalty of dismissal could no longer be enforced, the three are required to pay a fine equivalent to their last salaries for one year.

In their counter-affidavits however, the three respondents denied the accusations. 

Roque said that he was not party to the apparent agreement between Camilon and Bansil and that he returned the envelope containing the supposed bribe.

Bansil for her part claimed that it was Camilon who requested to be accompanied to the house of Roque while Buño pointed out that Camilon was not able to present evidence of her supposed text messages demanding P20,000.