Inmates bought freedom - Sotto

Vicente Sotto III

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III is convinced that there was monetary consideration in the early release of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

“Wala namang iba, pa-paano mo ma-i-alis sa isipan ng tao na nagkasuhulan ‘yan. Mga drug lords at involved ng heinous crimes ang convicts na pinapalaya,” Sotto said in an interview.

“Hindi maaaring hindi tama yung iniisip ng kababayan natin. Nagkasuhulan yan, imposibleng hindi,” he added.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) drew flak after almost 2,000 inmates were granted early release because of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law or Republic Act No. 10592.

Consequently, Sotto appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to revamp the BuCor administration.

Sotto noted that if the BuCor fails to address the issues hounding their agency, BuCor will have to face the Senate during its budget hearing set on October.

“Pag-usapan natin pagdating ng budget nila. Kapag wala silang ginawang kilos diyan, pagdating ng October dadaan samin budget nila, dun tayo magkakatuusan,” Sotto said.

Sotto cited that it was the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who sponsored the measure on GCTA.

Sotto said the late Miriam Defensor Santiago, who sponsored the measure on GCTA, suggested that the GCTA should benefit inmates who showed good behavior and those who are sickly and old.

“May mga nagtanong-tanong na kaagad sino ang nakikinabang at ang sagot ni Miriam e yung una sa lahat yung maganda ang behavior at yung mga ailing at aging convicts dahil ibig sabihin kasi nakakapagpasikip na lang dun it is a good suggestion to decongest the National Bilibid Prison [NBP],” Sotto said.

‘Unauthorized’

In a related development, Senator Panfilo Lacson has named the one who signed the documents that allowed the early release of convicts in the rape-slaying of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in Cebu in 1997.

Lacson said the release papers were signed by a technical superintendent at the Bureau of Corrections.

“Maria Fe Marquez. Parang correctional technical superintendent, yan ang nagpirma. So dapat alamin natin,” Lacson said.

The senator questioned the BuCor official’s signing of the papers, noting that the prisons director is the only one authorized to sign the papers.

“Kung hindi siya authorized — at talagang hindi siya authorized — ibig sabihin nag-usurp siya ng authority ng prisons director. Kung siya naman ay inutusan na pirmahan mo yan, dapat i-certify niya yan,” Lacson explained.

“Otherwise, talagang glaring yan. Kasi hindi mismong prisons director ang nagpirma, isang tao na hindi authorized,” he added.

Lacson earlier bared that those convicted for the abduction, rape and murder of the Chiong sisters had already been released.