By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators believe that money may have been the key of convicted drug lords and murderers out of the country’s penitentiaries.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Saturday did not mince words about his suspicion about the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) early release of inmates who are convicted of heinous crimes.
“Diyos ko, wala namang iba. Paano mo aalisin sa isip ng taumbayan na hindi nagkasuhulan ‘yan, eh mga drug lord at mga involved sa heinous crimes ang mga convicts na pinapalaya unang-una,” Sotto said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
(My God, there is no other reason. How could you deny to our countrymen that money was involved when drug lords and those convicted of heinous crimes were first to be released?)
“Nagkasuhulan ‘yan, isipin mo, big-time drug lord ang nakalabas? Hindi pwedeng hindi yan ang iniisip ng mga kababayan natin. Nagkasuhulan ‘yan, imposibleng hindi,” he added.
(There was bribery, see, big-time drug lords are now out of prison. The people, of course, cannot avoid to arrive at that conclusion. Money was involved and it is not possible that it is not.)
The BuCor is now in hot water for releasing 1,914 heinous crime convicts from 2014 in implementing the 2013-enacted Republic Act 10592, which allowed the re-computation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of prisoners.
Those freed include convicts for murder, rape, drug-trafficking and kidnapping, among others.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier bared that four convicted Chinese drug lords were freed from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) last June and now in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for deportation.
Lacson, in a separate interview also on DWIZ, said his sources in the NBP also reported the involvement of money in the processing of the GCTA of prisoners.
“Sabi nila, talagang pera-pera naman ‘yan (They said it is just all money talk in the NBP),” he said.
According to Lacson, more than 800 of the 1,914 released convicts were freed during the helm of BuCor director-general Nicanor Faeldon.
He said he hopes to verify this when the Senate justice and human rights committee starts on Monday its probe on the impending release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez due to alleged good behavior.
“Alamin natin kung sa 800 plus na ‘yon o ‘yong kabuuan ng 1,900, karamihan ba doon may kakayanan na gumastos? Halo-halo ba ‘yon? Mayroon bang kasama doon na mahihirap na walang kakayanan para maglagay? Pero kung 1,900 ay may mga kaya, at ‘yong 14 lamang ang wala, mayroong kaduda-duda doon,” Lacson said.
(We shall know if the more than 800 or all of the 1,914 inmates released are capable of bribing officials. Are they randomly selected? Do they include poor convicts who cannot bribe? But if all the 1,900 are wealthy and only 14 are poor, then this is really suspicious.)
Lacson also appealed to the Executive branch to take note of the findings of the Senate inquiry as a basis of how it will act address the controversy at the BuCor.
Sotto, for his part, maintained that there should be a revamp of the agency to include Faeldon, whom he questioned for washing his hands off in the issue.
“Siyempre lahat sila, lahat ng opisyal doon, dahil ‘di pwedeng may kumilos diyan na di nila alam lahat (Of course no one should be spared, they cannot say that they were unaware of the activities there),” Sotto said.
“Ano ‘yan nahack ang mga ballpen nila (Now, are they saying that their pens are hacked)?” he added, alluding to Faeldon’s denial about signing Sanchez’ release order.
Sotto said Faeldon and other officials in the BuCor should explain the mess.