Indications point to the family of former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez of having tried to avail of the alleged Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA)-for-sale scheme based on information disclosed before the joint probe of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice Committees, Sen. Richard Gordon suggested yesterday.
In a radio interview, Gordon said the timeline of the meeting between axed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director-general Nicanor Faeldon and members of the Sanchez family indicated that negotiations to free Sanchez through the notorious GCTA-for-sale scheme likely took place.
“I think so because of the actions of the family,” Gordon said, when asked if Sanchez may have been a client of the BuCor scam.
For instance, he cited as proof Sanchez’s common-law wife’s ability to freely enter the supposed maximum New Bilibid Prison even at night.
“She entered the next day, a holiday. He (Faeldon) was able to talk to her. There really is a connection… They really talked about it,” he explained.
Plan was for clemency
The senator suggested that the release of the convicted rapist and murderer was planned as the family has tried to get referrals from various government officials, but when they failed to get an executive clemency from the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP), the family resorted to the GCTA scheme.
“I think they really attempted because the plan was really complex. First, they tried to lobby. They went to the BPP, but when they were denied (of clemency), they tried to get it through the GCTA. But it is really in the law that they (heinous crimes convicts) were excluded (from the benefit of GCTA),” Gordon indicated.
“What I do not like is currently, even those small transactions like what happened to our witness the other day, you can see they (BuCor officials) are really asking for money and they will taunt you just to give it to them. It is really a business” he said.
He reiterated that it is not only Faeldon that the Senate is scrutinizing on the issue of the GCTA but also the system inside the BuCor.
One tough witness
Last Thursday night, a common-law wife of an inmate inside the Minimum Security Compound, Yolanda Camelon, came out to testify against the BuCor officials who allegedly offered to release her husband through GCTA in exchange for P50,000.
She tagged documents section chief Staff Sergeant Ramoncito Roque and BuCor personnel Mabel Bansil and Veronica Buno.
Camelon claimed that it was Bansil who introduced her to Roque. After they negotiated, Camelon’s husband was not released prompting her to testify against the BuCor personnel.
In an interview, Bansil refuted Camelon’s accusations, saying it was Camelon who asked her to personally introduce the latter to Roque.
On the other hand, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that there might be two other witnesses who may testify during the continuation of the Senate probe on Monday.
Sotto explained they are fixing the security assistance for the witnesses, but as of Sunday, the Senate chief said only one of the two witnesses has confirmed to attend the investigation.
In a previous interview, Gordon said Camelon was supposed to testify along with another witness. However, the witness got “cold feet” and withdrew at the last minute. The Senate investigation will continue on Monday at 10 a.m.
GCTA come-on bared
Heinous crime convicts who have surrendered voluntarily will have their GCTA credits immediately reevaluated and recomputed, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said yesterday.
He said he is pleased with the growing number of heinous crime convicts who have heeded President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to voluntarily surrender to authorities for a reevaluation and recomputation of their GCTA by the Department of Justice.
In a statement, Año urged all those who were released under the GCTA to voluntarily surrender to the nearest Philippine National Police (PNP) station or directly to the BuCor.
He said the PNP unit concerned shall immediately transfer them to BuCor custody upon their surrender.
65 back in harness
The PNP said 65 prisoners released through the GCTA have already surrendered to various police units.
According to the PNP’s Directorate for Operations, of the 65 who turned themselves in, 24 surrendered to various police stations under Police Region Office 2 or PRO2 based in Tuguegarao, Cagayan; 11 in PRO4B (MIMAROPA) in Oriental Mindoro; seven in PRO7 in Cebu; five in PRO5 in Legazpi, Albay; four each in PRO13 in Butuan City, Agusan del Sur and PRO Cordillera in La Trinidad, Benguet; three in PRO8 in Palo, Leyte; two each in PRO6 Western Visayas in Iloilo City and National Capital Region Police Office; and one each in PRO3 Central Luzon base in San Fernando City, Pampanga, PRO-4A (CALABARZON) in Calamba, Laguna, and PRO10 in Cagayan de Oro City.
With Francis T. Wakefield and Alvin Murcia