MANILA - Former Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon denied accusations that he tried to realign P1 billion in funds intended for the improvement of correctional facilities in Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.
"There is no realignment," Faeldon said in an interview on DZMM. He added that he is not even from the said area.
Instead, Faeldon said he only requested the Senate to transfer the funds to Sablayan because of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to move the New Bilibid Prisons in separate areas.
"Merong utos ang ating Presidente na ilipat na 'yung Bilibid. Ang pinakamalapit nating facilities ng BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) sa Metro Manila ay Sablayan," he said.
The occupancy rate in prison facilities in the country has reached 612 percent, the Commission on Audit noted in its 2017 report.
On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee chair Sonny Angara said that the P1 billion fund was originally earmarked for prisons in Palawan, Davao, Leyte and Zamboanga.
But Angara said Faeldon wrote the committee to transfer the money to Sablayan.
"We requested it hoping that they would understand the modernization program of BuCor," defended Faeldon.
Faeldon, who was born in Batanes, has been residing in Mindoro, the home province of his wife.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the sacked BuCor chief wanted to run for Mindoro governor in the 2019 elections.
The former Marine captain added that his request was not even granted.
"I invite our good senators to please study. 'Wag naman masyado tayong naggagaling-galingan nang hindi niya naiintindihan. Ang iingay. Lahat na ata pati kaldero pinakikialaman niya," Faeldon said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had slammed Faeldon for his "terrible" attempt to maneuver the budget. He said Faeldon or any bureau director has no business asking for the realignment of a program.
"That is a policy issue which Congress decided under the Constitution. Faeldon has no business saying or trying to substitute his judgement with that of Congress," Drilon said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
When asked if the realignment will happen, Drilon said Angara had said that he will ask that it be denied.
"But it's still there and that's the reason why no funds have been released," he said.