JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation into the killing of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) legal division chief Fredric Anthony Santos.
In his directive, Guevarra said the NBI through its director Dante Gierran should conduct investigation, case build-up and if warrants, file charges against the people behind the killing.
Santos was shot dead Wednesday, February 19, by unidentified gunmen while waiting to pick up his child in front of the Southernside Montessori School on Katihan Street, Barangay Poblacion in Muntinlupa City.
He died instantly from a gunshot wound to the head.
Guevarra also said in a statement that the killing was “very likely” related to the controversial implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) scheme, which reduces a prisoner’s jail sentence based on good behavior.
Santos and two other BuCor officials were the first to be suspended for six months without pay by the Office of the Ombudsman while an investigation is conducted into their alleged involvement in the GCTA irregularities.
Santos was among the resource persons in a Senate investigation into the GCTA mess. He was cited in contempt and detained at the Senate for allegedly being evasive un his answers.
During the Senate investigation, it was established that although Santos’ office was not included in the regular process for the granting of the GCTA to a prisoner, he provided legal opinion on BuCor director Nicanor Faeldon’s query on whether the approval of justice secretary for the release of the inmates through the law is still needed.
Santos recalled telling Faeldon of the rule requiring the DOJ secretary’s approval for the releases but he later on recanted his statement after Faeldon denied it.
It was revealed during the probe that the BuCor had failed to inform the DOJ before it signed the release orders for the GCTA beneficiaries.
The implementation of the GCTA was criticized following the aborted release of former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez who was convicted along with eight others for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines (UP) Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.
In a press conference in Camp Crame, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa echoed the statements of Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon that Santos’ execution was related to the revelation he made during the probe on GCTA.
“Naawa ako doon sa aking tao. Tao ko yun dati. Nagkaproblema na nga. Suspended na nga, sira na ‘yung buhay nya, nasira na ‘yung kanyang career pinatay pa. Bakit pa kailangan patayin ‘yung tao na ganun,” Dela Rosa said.
“Most likely na naman kagagawan na naman yan, hindi ko pinipreempt ‘yung investigation na ginagawa pero based on my experience ‘yung mga nagpapatay sa mga tao natin dyan sa bucor, yan rin ‘yung mga nakakulong na drug lords dyan na kumbaga hindi nasunod ‘yung kanilang kagustuhan. Marami pa rin pera, marami pa rin galamaya yan sa labas na puwede ka ipapatay. Tinatakot nga ang mga judges, mga piskal, may mga pinatay na abugado dhail nga hindi nila nakukuha ‘yung kagustuhan. They have the money, they can buy your life anytime,” he added.
Meanwhile, Muntinlupa Police Chief Hermogenes Cabe said they were still facing a blank wall on Santos killing as of Thursday, February 20. He noted that the CCTV in the area was “defective” and the resolution of the footage low, which made it hard to identify the gunmen. (SunStar Philippines)