By Ellson Quismorio
Congressmen are up in arms over the inclusion of “pork barrel scam” queen and plunder convict Janet Lim-Napoles in the list of inmates that could be released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) rule.
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go-Yap said this development furthers the suspicion that Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials have been using GCTA as a money-making mechanism.
“It seems that there is really a mafia inside BuCor and every stone must be turned to make these people accountable,” reckoned Zarate, a Senior Deputy Minority Leader.
“Mukhang ginawang kumikitang kabuhayan ng mga opisyal ng BuCor ang ‘GCTA scam’ at kailangang magkaroon ng lifestyle check ang mga opisyales ng BuCor mula 2014 (Looks like BuCor officials made a profitable business out of the ‘GTCA scam’ and there should be a lifestyle check on BuCor officials from 2014),” said the militant solon.
Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the multi-billion peso pork barrel diversion scam that sent at least three senators behind bars, was reportedly listed under the GCTA program during the stint of now Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as BuCor director-general. Discovered in 2013, the pork scam arguably led to the declaration of the lump sum discretionary funds as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) the following year.
Strangely, Napoles, who is serving a reclusion perpetua sentence, was shown by the list to have a crime of “rape.”
Dela Rosa’s successor at BuCor, Nicanor Faeldon, was recently fired by President Duterte as a result of the misapplication of the GCTA.
“Nakakabahala ang napabalitang pagsasama kay Janet Napoles sa listahan ng posibleng makalaya dahil sa GCTA. Noong una kong nabasa ito, akala ko fake news. Lalo tayong nangangamba baka may nangyayari nga na ‘GCTA for sale’ sa BuCor (Janet Napoles’s inclusion in the list of those who could be set free due to GCTA is alarming. When I first read this, I thought it was fake news. We’re growing more suspicious that ‘GCTa for sale’ is happening at BuCor),” Go-Yap said.
“Hindi sapat na tinanggal lang sa serbisyo ang mga opisyal nito, dapat na patuloy na gumulong ang pagdinig ukol sa GCTA mess na kinakaharap ng BuCor (It’s not enough that the officials were sacked, the hearings on the GCTA mess must continue),” he added.
Republic Act 10592, which increases the GCTA or good behavior credits for persons deprived of liberty (PDL), came under scrutiny after former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for rape and murder, was nearly released last month supposedly due to the application of the GCTA.
This outraged the public, especially since Sanchez had been sentenced to seven reclusion perpetua for the rape-slay of Eileen Sarmienta and the killing of her companion, Allan Gomez in 1993.
It was subsequently learned that nearly 2,000 inmates – including those who committed heinous crimes – were released by BuCor in recent years due to the erroneous application of the RA 10592. The Bureau, which is under the Department of Justice (DOJ), supervises the country’s penal system.
Go-Yap said he would file a bill defining ‘good conduct” among inmates and providing conditions in the grant of GCTA.