MANILA - The issue surrounding the case of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez would have died down if only Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon immediately made an announcement that he would not be released.
"All he (Faeldon) had to do is make an announcement, 'were not releasing mayor Sanchez per instruction of higher authorities'...that was the exact instruction," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday fired Faeldon after he approved the release of several heinous crime convicts. The President said "Faeldon disobeyed my order."
“As the President said last night, he was trying to extinguish a fire. Para matapos na ‘yan wag nang i-release. Tapos ang usapan. Ang dami pang explanation, ayun nanganak nang nanganak,” Panelo said.
(So the issue would end, do not release him. Then it's over. And there were too many explanations, [the issue] multiplied.)
But Faeldon did not follow the President’s order, he said.
"He said 'he disobeyed my order.' I think that very day that news erupted in the Sanchez case, late at night he instructed Chief Faeldon not to release and he did not obey that and he was upset about that," Panelo said.
Faeldon came under fire after news surfaced that his agency had approved the former Calauan, Laguna mayor's release based on good conduct while in prison.
"He was trying to justify the release and then the recall...that's why the president was upset," Panelo added.
Sanchez was supposed to be released last August after supposedly earning enough good conduct time allowance (GCTA), which allows the early release of convicts. This, however, did not push through following public outrage.
Faeldon admitted he signed an order that supposedly started the processing of Sanchez’s release, but insisted he had no choice but to follow Republic Act 10592, the 2013 law which increased GCTA to cover detention time.
Duterte also ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate BuCor officials who have been with the agency since 2015, or a year after the early release of prisoners started.
Meanwhile, Panelo, also Duterte's chief legal counsel, blamed the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law mess on the previous administration, particularly on former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
"Sino ba nag-craft ng implementing rules and regulations (IRR) not consistent with the principal or source of that IRR? Nabago 'yung IRR sa batas kaya 'yung mga subordinate mo tinitingnan lang nila 'yung IRR, hindi naman mga abogado yun. That's why it became messy, ang daming na-release."
(Who crafted the implementing rules and regulations not consistent with the principal or source of that IRR? The IRR changed what was in the law that's why the subordinates only looked at the IRR, and they are not lawyers. That's why it became messy, so many were released.)
"Secretary of Justice siya (She was Secretary of Justice), she's responsible for crafting that," he said.
BuCor data showed that of the total 22,049 prisoners released because of the GCTA since 2014, 1,914 were heinous crime convicts.