‘GCTA for sale’ racket probe eyed

September 06, 2019

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said that an investigation may be undertaken into the reported “GCTA (good conduct time allowance) for sale” racket in the Bilibid Prison.

Guevarra expressed belief that this anomaly is happening inside the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) but noted that a formal investigation may only transpire if evidence is at hand already.

“It’s still in the Senate. So, further investigation is being done to validate the existence of the so-called GCTA for sale. I do not have the facts before me but I tend to believe that is a very real possibility,” he said.

“Definitely. That (GCTA irregularities) will be part of the investigation because after we have completed the guidelines or even before that, I intend to conduct an inquiry into what’s going on at the BuCor in connection with the GCTA allowances,” Guevarra said.

BuCor officials

The Office of the Ombudsman will investigate officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)  involved in the release of prisoners who were granted Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) under Republic Act No. 10592.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the investigation pursuant to the mandate of their office to prioritize complaints involving grave offenses.

In his directive, Martires tasked the investigators to undertake a thorough and expeditious investigation into the matter.  

As of press time, the investigators have already obtained raw data and pertinent documents from the BuCor.

Meanwhile, documents are being gathered from the Department of Justice, Senate, and other relevant agencies.

Martires explained that “since the Ombudsman has assumed jurisdiction over this case, no other agency is allowed to conduct a parallel investigation unless so authorized by the Ombudsman pursuant to law.”  

He stressed that “in order to avoid any possible conflicting findings, agencies such as the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which announced its intent to also investigate the matter, should defer to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.”

Under R.A. No. 6770, the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of government, the investigation of such cases.

With Cory Martinez