APPARENTLY, some people can have their cake and eat it too.
According to a CNN Philippines report, three of the seven convicts in the simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997 have been released.
The release orders, dated Aug. 16, 2019, said Josman Aznar, Alberto Caño and Ariel Balansag had served 40 years upon retroactive application of Republic Act 10592, or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
So let me get this straight. After they kidnapped the two sisters outside the Ayala Center Cebu on the night of July 16, 1997, raped them and then killed them, they were released for good behavior?
The CNN Philippines report was confirmed by Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who, in a radio interview on Friday, Aug. 30, said a certain “Marquez” had signed the order, not BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon.
I guess the question is, who is this “Marquez”? And how come Faeldon was not aware of what was going on under his roof?
Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles had called on Congress to conduct a deeper probe on anomalous goings-on inside the bureau. Meanwhile, I just found out that the Senate will look into the problem on Monday, Sept. 2.
Aznar, Caño and Balansag should not get too comfortable living outside the National Bilibid Prison, though, as they might have to return there soon. Assuming, that is, all three are still in the country.
Because Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made it clear.
Prisoners who were convicted of heinous crimes but granted a reduction in their time served due to the GCTA would be sent back to jail, he said, adding that heinous crime convicts need to serve their full jail time as “they are not eligible to avail themselves of the benefits granted under RA 10592.”
“That cannot be done because the law is very clear. Republic Act 10592 is very clear that those charged and convicted of heinous crimes, escapees, habitual delinquents and recidivists are not covered by the law,” Panelo said.
Based on this, it’s safe to say that Aznar, Caño and Balansag are still convicts. So if they don’t report back to prison, will they then be considered fugitives? Or are they already fugitives?
There is no nationwide uproar on this news because it happened in Cebu. But it looks like the Chiong 3 were not the only ones convicted of heinous crimes who were released because of RA 10592. Several convicted drug lords had allegedly taken advantage of the law and are now enjoying their freedom.
Congressman Nograles had officially requested from Faeldon the list of all inmates who benefited from RA 10592 and were set free since 2013, but the latter’s executive assistant denied it for the protection of the released convicts.
“According to Faeldon’s office, my only remedy is to get a court order for his office to comply with my inquiry,” Nograles said.
Unfortunately, one of the people who could shed light on these allegations was killed by motorcycle-riding men last Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Ruperto Traya Jr., chief of BuCor’s Inmate’s Document Processing Division, was shot in the head in what Major Allan Rainier Cabral of the Muntinlupa police described as a “well-planned” operation.