Faeldon unaware of DOJ order requiring clearance for inmates' release

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2019 08:17 PM

MANILA - Sacked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon on Monday claimed he was unaware of a Department of Justice (DOJ) order requiring the bureau to seek the department’s approval for the release of inmates, but a senator leading the probe into the alleged anomalies at the national penitentiary is not buying it.

Faeldon recently came under fire after the BuCor announced that some 2,000 heinous crime convicts were released on account of good conduct.

The release apparently violated DOJ Order No. 953, issued in 2015, which states that the BuCor has to seek the DOJ’s approval for the release due to expired sentences of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.

BuCor’s legal division chief Fredric Anthony Santos told Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon that he advised Faeldon about the DOJ order, but he could not recall exactly when.

Faeldon, however, denied ever being told about the order.

“I have never heard him inform me about [DOJ Order No.] 953,” Faeldon said.

“In fact, that is not the way to do it. If that is indeed true, they should have sent me a prepared letter of endorsement to the Sec[retary] listing those supposed to be released."

Even Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra admitted that the DOJ was not aware of such an order until the issue on the granting of the good conduct time allowance became public.

Central to the controversy on the granting of GCTA was the now- aborted release of convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.

Faeldon had signed Sanchez’s release order but revoked it at the last minute due to public outrage.

Senators then uncovered an alleged scheme where the GCTA was being sold by unscrupulous BuCor officials and personnel to inmates seeking early freedom.

Speaking to reporters, Gordon said it was very clear that Faeldon did “not know his job” as BuCor chief.

He also doubts that Faeldon was completely unaware of the DOJ order, considering that he had been confiding with Santos on legal and technical matters at the bureau.

“That meant he knew all along that he was signing an order that had no legal basis,” Gordon said.

“First, the fact that it is happening below means that they’re seeing it from above. Secondly, he cannot hide behind the fact that he has no knowledge about the law.”

Santos, for his part, said the BuCor no longer sought the DOJ’s permission for the release of inmates because the enactment of the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, in his view, repealed the DOJ Order No. 953.

He also lamented the slow pace of action of the DOJ when it comes to approving the release of inmates, which he said has opened the BuCor to various cases.