MANILA - Several senators on Wednesday called on embattled Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon to quit while some asked him to take a leave as the Senate investigates the alleged corruption of a system that allowed the early release of prisoners for supposed good behavior.
The Faeldon-led BuCor recently came under fire after it allegedly abused its power in granting good conduct time allowance to prisoners, including convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.
Faeldon maintained he merely followed the implementing rules of the 2013 law that expanded good conduct credits for prisoners of good standing, but several senators smelled irregularities in the law’s application.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes President Rodrigo Duterte will order a revamp of the entire BuCor.
“I will venture a guess that he will revamp the whole [BuCor],” Sotto told reporters.
“He will not leave anyone behind. I will support what Sen. Bong Go said that heads will roll.”
Sotto added, he has received intelligence reports of corruption of the GCTA system at the New Bilibid Prison.
“Milyones daw, ‘yun ang kwento (I've heard it's in the millions.),” Sotto said.
“We have intelligence reports already that I already shared with Senator [Panfilo] Lacson, so in the hearings tomorrow, we will see if we have to uncover them or not.”
Senators Francis Pangilinan, Sherwin Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, said Faeldon should already quit his post.
Pangilinan said Faeldon already committed an infraction when he did not seek the clearance of the Department of Justice, which oversees the BuCor, for the release of the convicts.
“He should resign. Naniniwala ako na dapat magbitiw na siya dahil malinawag na nagkaroon ng kapalpakan sa proseso na hindi tama,” Pangilinan told reporters.
(He should resign. I believe he should quit because it is clear there were errors in the process.)
Pangilinan said considering that Faeldon had been implicated in a shabu smuggling controversy during his stint at the Bureau of Customs, it is important that he finally leaves government.
“Palagay ko dapat maawa naman ang ating gobyerno sa ating mga kababayan. ‘Yung mga ganitong klaseng kilos hindi na dapat palagpasin,” Pangilinan said.
(I believe the government should have mercy on the public. These kinds of actions should not be tolerated.)
Gatchalian, for his part, said Faeldon should resign “out of delicadeza.”
“His answers during the Blue Ribbon inquiry on the good conduct time allowance in the past two days show that he was ill prepared for the hearing and full of inconsistencies,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“To achieve true reform in the Bureau of Corrections, Faeldon needs to go. And the sooner he resigns, the better.”
Villanueva asked Faeldon to show “humility” and resign from the BuCor.
“He is ineffective and is slowly becoming the epitome of the government’s failure to address corruption,” Villanueva said.
“His stints in Customs and now in BuCor were associated with drug smuggling and corruption. He should permanently be dumped and not recycled.”
Sens. Manny Pacquiao, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Sonny Angara said Faeldon should either take a leave or resign to give way to an investigation into alleged irregularities in the GCTA system.
“Maganda 'yung either mag-leave siya or mag-resign. Kung ayaw niyang mag-resign, at least mag-leave siya to give way to an impartial investigation. Kasi ang dami nang nangyayari sa ahensya n’ya,” Angara told reporters.
(It's better if he would take a leave or resign. If he does not want to resign, at least give way to an impartial investigation because so much has been happening in his agency.)
Pacquiao said Faeldon taking a leave of absence would spare the President from further embarrassment.
"Besides, the President is unnecessarily dragged into this whole mess being the appointing authority. If Usec. Faeldon truly respects the President, he must do the right thing. I'm pretty sure everything will work out for him in the end," Pacquiao said in a statement.
Zubiri agrees that Faeldon should take a leave of absence “to allow the President to conduct the investigation that he wants.”
Senators Ronald Dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, and Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, all believe that Faeldon’s fate should rest on Duterte.
Lacson, however, said the President’s next move on the embattled BuCor chief would say a lot about his battle against corruption.
“Obviously the ball is in the President’s court to decide. Having said that, the challenge for good governance including his oft repeated vow to fight drugs and corruption is now put to test once more,” Lacson said in a statement.