Duterte fires Faeldon for 'disobeying' his order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon for supposedly disobeying his order to stop the release of more convicts under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

"Faeldon has to go because Faeldon disobeyed my order," Duterte said Wednesday evening in a press briefing at the Palace. "He should've echoed my orders to him. No releases, sabi ng Office of the President [the Office of the President said,] until further notice by higher authority. Higher authority could only mean [Executive Secretary Salvador] Medialdea, [Justice Secretary Menardo] Guevarra at ako."

Duterte said he called Faeldon to stop further releases, but Faeldon instead "tried to justify" the computations of the inmates' good conduct time allowance.

"I was trying to provide the fire extinguisher para wala nang duda 'yung tao. No releases. Eh kung sinabi niya 'yan eh 'di wala na sana," Duterte said. "Ang problema, kinabukasan, he came up with his statement with his own computation."

[Translation: I was trying to provide the fire extinguisher so that the people would no longer have any doubts. No releases. If he said that, then this would all be over ... The problem is, the following day, he came up with his statement, with his own computation.]

Asked if he has lost trust in Faeldon, whom he had vouched for being "clean", Duterte said this is a matter between him and the erstwhile BuCor chief.

He also said he suspects there is corruption in the BuCor.

Faeldon said on Twitter that he is "a marine and a marine does as he is told."

"I most humbly bow to my commander-in-chief's order without any hard feelings," he said.

Duterte did not answer questions about Faeldon's replacement. He also dismissed for being "a joke", a question on whether he would reappoint Faeldon to another government post again.

Lawmakers lauded Duterte's sacking of Faeldon as head of the BuCor.

"I'm sure the public supports President Duterte's timely action removing Faeldon as Dir. Gen of the Bureau of Corrections. Within just a few days, Faeldon has been exposed as having consciously applied the GCTA erroneously for the benefit of heinous crimes convict Mayor Antonio Sanchez," Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri said.

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chair Richard "Dick" Gordon told CNN Philippines that this "speaks volumes" about Duterte's leadership.

Senator Imee Marcos said that now Faeldon is out, the ball is in Congress to "sort out" the expanded GCTA law.

Duterte also called on Congress to amend the expanded GCTA law.

Probe sought

Aside from firing Faeldon, Duterte also urged the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the possible corruption in the BuCor, in relation to the release of heinous crime convicts.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires told CNN Philippines that he is "working on this now."

"I just had an initial discussion with some officers who will be assigned to conduct the investigation," Martires said in a text message.

Duterte's pronouncement came amid calls for a revamp at the BuCor, after reports surfaced about the possible release of convicted rapist and killer Antonio Sanchez. Release orders signed by Faeldon for several heinous crime convicts have also surfaced.

Before his stint at the BuCor, Faeldon was Customs Commissioner. He stepped down in 2017 after ₱6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment managed to slip past Customs under his watch. In an earlier investigation, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended the filing of graft and corruption charges against him for the incident.

Despite the controversies Faeldon was involved in, Duterte reappointed him to the Office of Civil Defense, before appointing him as BuCor chief.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos, Alyssa Rola, Tristan Nodalo, AC Nicholls and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.