MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Monday, September 2, that there are indications the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) system is being corrupted and that it could be favoring powerful and influential inmates such as convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez.
"Sanchez et al were not random beneficiaries, ang lumalabas po ay sila ay pinaboran, special treatment ika nga (it looks like they were favored, recipients of special treatment), I'm talking about this system called GCTA for sale," Hontiveros said during the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees' investigation into the GCTA law.
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Nicanor Faeldon confirmed that since June 2019 when the Supreme Court (SC) made the GCTA law retroactive, 200 convicts have been released.
Faeldon said they were screened by the Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee (MSEC) of the BuCor.
Hontiveros asked if all 200 had no record of violation.
Faeldon said there is presumption of regularity in the screening done by the MSEC. (READ: Faeldon ordered Sanchez release, but stopped it after outcry)
Hontiveros said "an opposite example of regularity" is the fact that prisoners, including old prisoners, who have very clean prison records, have not been made beneficiaries yet.
Hontiveros said she has names of these prisoners, but said she would only release them to senators in an executive session so as not to imperil their possible releases.
"Kaya sinabi ko kanina na hindi random beneficiary si Mayor Sanchez, na hindi nagkataon lang na isa sa 200, na may pagpapabor (This is why I said Sanchez was not a random beneficiary, and that there were favors) because I have here with me names of convicts complete with details who probably should have been given GCTA before someone who stuffed shabu," Hontiveros said.
Sanchez had records of misdemeanors and grave offenses like being found with shabu on two occasions – in 2006 and then in 2010.
Faeldon said he would conduct an investigation.
"I am one with you in trying to find out if there are really anomalies in the selection," said Faeldon.
Hontiveros also pointed out that she knows of an old prisoner with a clean record at the Iwahig Penal Farm in Palawan, whose daughter said they have not been notified at all of a possible release.
"Eh bakit po 'yung anak ni Mayor Sanchez, itong si Allan Sanchez, alam na makakalaya, Usec Faeldon, personal mo raw siyang nakausap sabi ni Allan Sanchez, and you allegedly reassured him that their father will be released," Hontiveros said.
(In the case of Sanchez's son, Allan Sanchez, why did he know that their father was up for release. He said you talked to him personally, that you allegedly reassured him that their father will be released.)
Faeldon said Allan Sanchez is lying.
"Yes, (he is lying.) I talked to the family, here is how it happened: Evening of August 21, I was resting in my quarters when I was notified by my staff that the family of Sanchez wanted to talk to me, but it was already night time so I said at the time there was already a stoppage of the processing because we wanted to clearly verify," Faeldon said
Faeldon said that upon the insistence of the family that night, he came out to explain to them the circumstances. "There was never a reassurance from me," Faeldon said.
Hontiveros wrapped up her interpellation with a challenge to Faeldon: "Sa ganitong mga kaliwa't-kanan na kapalpakan, na pagkukulang sa GCTA, importante pero simpleng tanong na mahirap sagutin sa komite, dapat alam na alam niyo kaagad, kailan po kayo magreresign?"
(Given left and right failures, the deficiencies of the GCTA, important but simple questions which you should know already, but you cannot answer, when will you resign?)
"I respect the question but I defer that question to the appointing authority," Faeldon replied.
Asked if he believes he should resign, Faeldon said, "No." – Rappler.com