Justice chief appoints interim prisons head

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2019 06:29 PM | Updated as of Sep 06 2019 07:02 PM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday named a Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) official as the agency's interim head following the sacking of Nicanor Faeldon over the early release of heinous crime convicts.

The justice department announced that Guevarra designated BuCor Assistant Secretary and Deputy Director General Melvin Ramon Buenafe as BuCor officer-in-charge.

In Department Order No. 468, Guevarra empowered Buenafe to mind BuCor's day-to-day affairs, "effect permissible movements of BuCor personnel," and "adopt strict measures to ensure the integrity and proper safekeeping of official records," including those surrounding the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) system.

The GCTA grants early release to prisoners on account of good conduct. It has courted controversy over the release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts supposedly not entitled to such grant under the law.

Buenafe takes the reins of the BuCor amid recent allegations of a "GCTA for sale" racket at the New Bilibid Prisons.

He was formerly with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and a batchmate of Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, a former police and BuCor chief, at the Philippine Military Academy "Sinagtala" Class of 1986.

In a separate order, Guevarra also created a committee to keep a close watch of the bureau, an attached agency under the Department of Justice, pending President Rodrigo Duterte's appointment of a new BuCor chief.

The committee will be headed by Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco and have Assistant Secretaries Neal Bainto and George Ortha II as members.

Duterte had sacked Faeldon on Wednesday following the controversial early release of heinous crime convicts on good conduct credits.