Sen. Richard Gordon has minced no words reprimanding officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) for what has now emerged as their astounding incompetence and/or criminal negligence in implementing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.
Following revelations last week that the list of freed convicts BuCor had prepared was riddled with errors, the most egregious and baffling of them the inclusion of pork-barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles and the classification of her crime as “rape,” Gordon tore into the BuCor officials: “…the people are all the more losing trust in the government because of your sloppy work.”
Well, look who’s talking. Sloppy might be the most charitable word to describe as well Gordon’s absurd handling of the Senate hearings so far that are looking into the GCTA controversy.
Out of the blue last week, while in the midst of being regaled with a sordid stream of stories about continuing massive corruption and criminality in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP)— 24-hour gambling, kidnapping, good conduct and hospital passes for sale, prostitution, and yes, even drug trafficking, while under the management of the supposedly no-nonsense Duterte administration — Gordon suddenly veered into bizarro territory by pushing what he fancily described as a “theory”: that detained Sen. Leila de Lima could have used the GCTA to raise funds for her senatorial campaign in 2016.
De Lima, Gordon noted, was involved in crafting the implementing rules and regulations for the GCTA as justice secretary during that time and, therefore, had the power to let the BuCor officials carry out the releases of prisoners.
Was there any smidgen of evidence for even airing such a theory?
“I’m just saying in the realm of possibility, it can happen,” hedged Gordon. “That’s not evidence. I know what I’m doing.”
Does he? All Gordon had to do was check the records to realize how farfetched his bright supposition was.
Of the nearly 2,000 convicts released since the GCTA’s rules took effect in 2014, only around 167 were released during the Aquino administration.
More than 1,700 convicts were, however, released during the Duterte administration, now in power for three years and who has had three BuCor chiefs so far.
The paltry release numbers in De Lima’s time don’t suggest the kind of GCTA-for-sale market now rocking the present administration, and which has been corroborated by witnesses at the Senate hearings.
They actually suggest the opposite — that in the first years of the law, care was taken to apply the law sparingly, until enterprising officials who took over saw a money-making opportunity and made a full-fledged racket out of it.
What the hearings have laid bare, in fact, is that all the bungling in the GCTA have been committed more recently.
The foiled plan to release former Calauan mayor and convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, the release of a number of Chinese drug traffickers and some of the convicts behind the Chiong sisters case, not to mention the hilarious (if it weren’t so infuriating) inclusion of Napoles, all happened during this administration.
But BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon was once again saved by President Duterte with a convenient and timely firing that let him off the hook, while a number of his underlings have now been suspended by the Ombudsman.
Another former BuCor chief Gordon’s theory should logically include is his fellow senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who, in 2018, asked that the authority to approve GCTA releases be delegated to him.
Might Gordon’s suspicion about De Lima not also extend to Dela Rosa, since the latter had formally asked for the power to release prisoners at a time when he was gearing up for his 2019 senatorial run?
All conjecture, of course, which is what ensues when Gordon irresponsibly engages in baseless, freeform theorizing. As this paper, among others, had reported: “There was no testimony presented categorically saying that De Lima asked money to free inmates under the GCTA law.”
Gordon’s efforts to muddy the waters, seemingly to sow doubts in the country’s indignation over the current prison mess by diverting blame and accountability away from the Duterte administration and toward an expedient scapegoat, is all too blatant, disgraceful and low.
Instead of ferreting out the truth about the current criminal environment at the NBP, the senator President Duterte had described as “one fart away from disaster” is doing some heavy-duty farting with his gaslighting flights of fancy. If all else fails, it appears, try good old muddle and misdirection.
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