Ex-BuCor Chief Bato sought power to release heinous crime convicts – DOJ head

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — Former Bureau of Corrections chief and now Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa wanted his office to have the authority to release heinous crime convicts, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed on Monday.

Guevarra initially said he received a letter from a "higher authority" in BuCor in 2018 for the approval authority to release convicts sentenced to life imprisonment to be shifted from the Justice Secretary to the BuCor Chief. Upon further pressing, Guevarra said Dela Rosa was the one who signed the order to "delegate" the power to the BuCor Director General — Bato's position from May to October 2018.

Guevarra said he did not act on Dela Rosa's request, which he saw just recently.

"It made mention of a memorandum dated June 4, 2018 from Usec Ronald dela Rosa, Director General of BuCor, requesting for the grant of authority for the Director General to approve or act upon the following request enumerated in Department Order 953... The first and foremost is the release of PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) with expired sentences," Guevarra said during the fourth Senate hearing into the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

Dela Rosa was seeking to change what is provided in Department Order 953, which says the release of prisoners sentenced to reclusion perpetua shall only be implemented upon the prior approval of the Justice Secretary,The order also says BuCor should give a list of inmates set to be released to the DOJ one month prior to their scheduled release. The said DOJ order was issued in November 2015.

Dela Rosa's successor, sacked BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon, said they did not seek Guevarra's approval before releasing hundreds of heinous crime convicts, including the foiled early release of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez due to good conduct.

Malacañang earlier said Dela Rosa should face a probe to determine whether the former BuCor chief should also be held accountable for the release of heinous crime convicts. Dela Rosa earlier admitted during a Senate probe that he signed 120 release orders for heinous crime convicts.