MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday questioned what he described as a "rush" in the release of some 44 prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons, including 3 high-profile rape convicts.
Lacson grilled BuCor Technical Chief Supt. Maria Fe Marquez for signing the release orders of the 44 inmates on Aug. 16 even though she could have waited for then BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon, who was at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro that day.
“Bakit minamadali ang pag-pirma? Hindi ba makahintay ng Aug. 17 when he came back from Sablayan?” Lacson asked Marquez.
(Why the rush in the signing? Could you not wait until Aug. 17 when Faeldon returns from Sablayan?)
Marquez argued that she had no choice but to sign the 44 memoranda for the release because she and other BuCor officials could be charged with arbitrary detention.
“They are already convicts. How could there be a case for arbitrary detention?” Lacson countered.
Marquez said she had “no malice in mind” when she signed the memoranda for release.
“I just performed my duty on that particular day,” she said.
She said the memoranda were just dropped off at her office towards the end of working hours and she was not aware of what happened to the documents after they were picked up by a colleague from BuCor.
She also said some convicts' relatives would sometimes go to her home to follow up on the release of their loved ones.
“What’s so special about the 44 PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) that you had to stay behind and sign the documents on that particular day?” Lacson said. “Could it not wait the following day?”
BuCor legal division chief Fredric Anthony Santos told Lacson the BuCor’s basis for signing the release of the convicts were the recent Supreme Court decision ordering the retrospective application of a 2013 law which expanded the good conduct credits for prisoners.
“The release can wait, and you will not be charged. Will you be charged if the release is delayed by two days?” Lacson said.
The senator said based on the statements of BuCor officials, “we can draw a conclusion.”
“I’d like to correct the minds of everyone that we at the BuCor are performing our duties well. I’ve been in the BuCor for more than 24 years and I’ve worked with hard working people,” Marquez said.
The implementation of Republic Act 10592, which increases the “good conduct time allowance” of prisoners, has come under scrutiny after the justice department announced that convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez might be released from prison because of supposed good behavior.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Risa Hontiveros both claimed receiving information that the GCTA was being sold to prisoners.