Prisons officials' 'ignorance' of good conduct law 'no excuse': official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2019 10:44 AM | Updated as of Sep 04 2019 10:59 AM

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MANILA -- Ignorance of the law does not excuse prison officials from being liable for releasing heinous crime convicts, an official of the President's anti-corruption body said Wednesday.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon on Monday said the agency only followed the practice of previous administrations in implementing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law in releasing prisoners, including heinous crime convicts.

Manuelito Luna, commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, said following the bureau's years-long practice did not "make it right or legal."

"They thought that was right because that was the practice. But ignorance of the law excuses no one," he said.

Under the GCTA law, criminals convicted with heinous crimes are excluded from its benefits along with habitual delinquents, escapees and recidivists.

Data from the BuCor showed that a total of 1,914 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes have been granted early release since 2014, a year after the law's enactment.

The anti-corruption body on Monday announced it would investigate Faeldon over the release of heinous crime convicts.

Aside from Faeldon, the PACC would also look into former BuCor chiefs, except for Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, who briefly headed the bureau last year, as he represents a separate and co-equal branch of government, according to Luna.

Dela Rosa, however, could face the collegial body voluntarily but Luna said he would advise against it.

"I caution him against doing that because he represents Senate, and therefore he has to think of the institutional independence of the Senate," he said.

The anti-corruption body is set to finish its investigation in less than 2 months, Luna said.

"The circumstances dictate we have to submit our recommendations to President as soon as possible," he said.