MANILA - The alleged practice of jail officials selling freedom to inmates began even before the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, a senator said Tuesday.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said more reports were received by authorities when the Supreme Court (SC) in June released a decision applying the law retroactively.
"The disturbing thing, according to our sources, 'yang (this) GCTA for sale practice started even when the GCTA law was still prospective in application. (Yun) nga lang, mas mahirap gawin ito (It was harder to do) after 2013 because of the monitoring and even the peer monitoring system," she told ANC's Early Edition.
"The records before the 2013 period, mas magulo, 'di maayos yung documentation of good or bad conduct (was disorganized, the documentation was in disarray)."
She added that her colleague Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, who briefly served as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief last year, had heard reports of the alleged practice, but these were mostly from disgruntled families of unqualified inmates.
The GCTA law or Republic Act 10592, passed in 2013, expanded the application of good conduct time allowance for prisoners even during preventive imprisonment and increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct.
Hontiveros said strict monitoring of the law is needed so that qualified inmates could benefit from it.
"RA 10592 is a good law in the spirit of restorative justice, baka kailangan lang i-update 'yung IRRs (implementing rules and regulations) in light of the more recent SC ruling," she said.
Among amendments to the law's IRR that Hontiveros said she would propose are the clustering of infractions of prisoners from light to grave offenses, a period of parole for the prisoners so the justice department, and the overhaul of the BuCor.
The senator said officials must be held liable, beginning with BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon, for the release of 1,914 convicted heinous criminals since 2014.
"The greatest work has to be done on the part of officials applying the law. Simula na kay Director General Faeldon na singilin yung kanilang (Starting with Director General Faeldon to collect) accountability for apparent abuse, negligence in the application of the law," she said.
Hontiveros had earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sack Faeldon, who during Monday's Senate hearing, defended the bureau's implementation of the law and said he believes he should not quit his post.
"Hasn’t Faeldon heard of irrevocable resignation? Sinayang niya 'yung pagkakataon kahapon (He wasted his chance yesterday) in full view of Filipino citizens to practice delicadeza and integrity," she said.
"Nag-insist pa siya na he’s doing a good job, pero hindi 'yun good job 'yung pagpapalaya ng convicted Chinese drug lords, muntik nang paglalaya sa convicted rapist-killer na unrepentant until today. Hindi 'yun good job. Inside job 'yun."
(He even insisted he's doing a good job, but releasing convicted Chinese drug lords and almost freeing an unrepentant convicted rapist-killer is not a good job, that's an inside job.)
Hontiveros was referring to the four Chinese drug lords released due to good conduct and were set for deportation and former Calauan town mayor Antonio Sanchez, whose supposed release sparked public outrage.