MANILA

Duterte says he still believes in sacked BuCor chief

Photo grabbed from PTV video

(UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, September 6, said he still believes in Nicanor Faeldon even after he fired him as director general of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) following the uproar over the early release of heinous crime convicts based on good conduct.

"Kana si Faeldon, tarong na nga tawo (Faeldon is a good man). I still believe in him," Duterte said

He recalled how Faeldon, as then chief of the Bureau of Customs, reported to him about a businessman in Cebu who keeps cigarettes with fake tax stamps in three warehouses.

"We earned P37 billion (in taxes) because of that report by Faeldon," the President said in a speech delivered after he led the groundbreaking ceremony for the permanent housing project for landslide victims in Naga City, around 20 kilometers south of Cebu City.

He was referring to the warehouses of Mighty Corporation that were raided in 2017. The homegrown tobacco company paid its tax liabilities.

Duterte demanded Faeldon's immediate resignation on Wednesday night, September 4, and, in the same breath, ordered heinous crime convicts who were released because of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) to surrender within 15 days.

Faeldon, a former mutineer, immediately packed his bags and vacated his quarters at the BuCor compound at about 1 a.m. Thursday, September 5, saying he bows to his "commander-in-chief's order without any hard feelings".

"My commander-in-chief/appointing authority has spoken. I am a marine and a marine does as he is told. I most humbly bow to my commander-in-chief's order without any hard feelings," his official statement read.

Duterte first tapped Faeldon as Bureau of Customs chief, but the latter stepped down in August 2016 following the shipment of P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China through the Manila International Container Terminal.

The President later re-appointed Faeldon to the Office of Civil Defense and later on tasked the latter to lead the BuCor in November 2018.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has designated Assistant Secretary and Deputy Director General Melvin Ramon G. Buenafe as officer-in-charge of the Office of the BuCor Director General.

Guevarra also created a committee headed by Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Deo L. Marco, with Assistant Secretaries Neal V. Bainto and George Ortha II, to exercise close administrative supervision over the bureau pending appointment by the President of a new director general.

The GCTA, which is granted to qualified inmates with good behavior, is provided for under Republic Act 10572.

The scheme caused an uproar following reports that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez, who is serving seven life terms for the rape and murder of college student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez in Laguna, was ordered released.

Sanchez's release order dated August 20, 2019 was recalled.

Under the law, "recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes" cannot benefit from GCTA. The implementing rules and regulations, however, cover convicts of heinous crimes.

Since 2014, a total of 1,914 convicts of heinous crimes have been released, including more than 200 whose applications were processed after the Supreme Court ruled in June 2019 in favor of the law's retroactive effectivity.

Police have activated tracker teams to locate about 1,700 heinous crime convicts who were released before June 2019.

If they fail to surrender within 15 days, Duterte said he was considering a P1-million bounty on each convict "dead or alive".(SunStar Philippines)


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