'Why pin the blame on us?' Bato defends BuCor amid GCTA mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2019 09:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 10 2019 09:43 AM

MANILA - Senator Ronald Dela Rosa on Tuesday defended the Bureau of Corrections for releasing heinous crime convicts due to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law. 

"Why pin the blame on us? We are just implementing the law. Hindi naman kami ang gumawa ng batas na 'yan...Ikaw ba, kapag umorder ka nang pagkain, hindi ka nasarapan sa pagkain, pagalitan mo 'yung waiter? Dapat ang pagalitan mo 'yung chef...We are the waiters," Dela Rosa told ANC's Headstart.

Republic Act 10592, which contains the provision on the GCTA, was passed in 2013 under then President Benigno Aquino III with the goal of decongesting prisons and giving a second chance to reformed convicts. 

"Wala kaming ibang basis na sundin kung 'di sinasabi nila this is the implementing rules and regulation of RA 10592," Dela Rosa said.

Around 1,900 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes were granted early release since 2014 under GCTA, previous reports said.

"The IRR is very silent doon sa exclusion ng heinous crime convincts. Kahit hindi ako abugado makipagdebate ako sa inyo dyan kung mali yung ginagawa ng BuCor," he said.

Dela Rosa said less than 120 heinous crime convicts have been released under his watch as BuCor chief. 

"The law nga mismo is not clear, inaamin ng mga mambabatas na there is ambiguity in this law," he stated.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed during the fourth Senate hearing on the alleged anomalies in the GCTA system that Dela Rosa wrote to the Department of Justice to delegate to the BuCor the power to release inmates with expired sentences.

Under DOJ’s Department Order No. 953, the BuCor has to first seek the DOJ’s approval for the release of national prisoners with expired sentences.

In the interview, the senator said he made the request because lawyers of persons deprived of liberty were suing BuCor officials for failing to release the prisoners on time. 

Dela Rosa served as BuCor chief from April to October 2018.