MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) must have "direct control and supervision" over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to curb corruption and illegal activities in the agency that supervises the national penitentiary and other prisons, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Saturday.
Republic Act 10575 or The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Act of 2013 must be amended because the agency has become "too powerful" and its officials "are to be blamed for the corrupt practices in the bureau," Drilon, a former justice chief, told radio DWIZ.
The BuCor is an attached agency of the DOJ.
"It is time to give more teeth to the Department of Justice," Drilon said. "There are a number of critical agencies over which the department has limited to zero control."
Under the law, the DOJ's control over the BOC is limited to administrative supervision.
"The justice secretary is left in the dark because he has no direct control and supervision of the bureau," he said.
"This is one of the loopholes that we should look into. The corrupt officials in the BuCor took advantage of the law that gave too much power to the bureau to the extent that there is no more check and balance," he said.
Drilon made the call amid a Senate inquiry into alleged corruption at the BuCor, including the supposed sale of good conduct credits for the early release of prisoners and hospital passes to inmates who are otherwise not ill.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier said some 2,000 drug lords and convicted rapists were released even while the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) policy, which could reduce penalties for prisoners on account of good conduct, does not cover heinous crimes.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the inmates to return to prison within 15 days, with the deadline set on Sept. 19, or else face warrantless arrest.
The President also fired BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon over the controversy.