By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Sacked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon might have signed the release order for convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, at least according to a deleted text message between two prison guards at the New Bilibid Prison.
National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran on Thursday bared further before the Senate justice committee the findings of their examination on the mobile phones of BuCor Senior Inspector Maria Belinda Bansil and BuCor Officer 3 Veronica Buño.
Bansil and Buño were earlier named by Senate witness Yolanda Camilon as among the BuCor officials that transacted with her for the early release of her husband from the NBP by manipulating his good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
Gierran, quoting a report from the NBI’s digital forensic laboratory, said Buño deleted a text message sent by Bansil last August 31, which read:
“Mas pinaguusapan GCTA…Babalasahin na naman ang BuCor, si Faeldon, itinanggi ang pirma niya, di ba eh pirma naman niya talaga ‘yon?”
Senator Richard Gordon asked Gierran if the text message was referring to Sanchez’ release order supposedly signed by Faeldon.
“So you’re saying may pirma talaga si (that it has the signature of) Faeldon?” Gordon asked.
“That’s the purport of the message,” the NBI chief replied.
Faeldon earlier denied that he signed the order for Sanchez’s early release due to the GCTA, as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed to media late evening of August 27.
Faeldon, during the Senate justice panel’s September 2 hearing on the GCTA controversy, said he did not approve any release order on Sanchez, but admitted having signed a memorandum order recommending the processing of the former Calauan, Laguna mayor’s early release.
Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape-slay of the University of the Philippines students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez in 1993, was allegedly set for release according to a document dated August 20, 2019.
But the move was shelved following public outcry, with President Duterte ordering the concerned agencies not to grant Sanchez his freedom.
Another report from the NBI also found that Buño had an exchange with Bansil over text, mentioning amounts of money apparently given to BuCor higher-ups.
“8k, Baj (Veronica Buño), Chito, bibigay 50k, 100k, Faeldon,” Gierran said, reading their agency’s second and final report in the examined phones.
A text message from Buño also read “8k po yung pera cash inabot mam (P8,000 cash was handed over, ma’am).
Gordon clarified, “So it would appear that they mentioned names involved in cash transactions?”
“[That is how] It appears from the deleted messages Mr. Chairman,” Gierran said.
In an interview after the hearing, however, Gordon said he was still not convinced that Faeldon benefitted from the so-called “GCTA for Sale” scheme in the Bilibid.
He said Buño and Bansi, during an executive session, supposedly mentioned names “in passing, but I did not find sufficient proof for me to believe that something was going on.”
When pressed about Faeldon, Gordon said, “small-time eh, small-time ‘yong operation, I think.”
The Senate justice committee, meanwhile, cited in “humanitarian contempt” both Buño and Bansil after hesitating to elaborate the contents of their mobile phones.
“We do fear lang po talaga na magsalita (to speak in) in public kasi Sir, yong mga possible na mabanggit, posible na magkaroon ng –” Buño told Gordon.
Gordon later clarified that he also cited in contempt the women for lying about their communication with Camilon.
The NBI, during the September 19 hearing, said the two had contacted Camilon last February about the release of her husband.