President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon over the release of convicts, including those imprisoned for committing heinous crimes.
Duterte said he was letting go of Faeldon because he “disobeyed my order.”
“I am demanding the resignation of Faeldon immediately,” he said, adding that he arrived at the decision on Tuesday night.
“Faeldon has to go because Faeldon disobeyed my order,” the President told reporters in Malacañang.
Faeldon said he would comply with the President’s order.
“My commander-in-chief/appointing authority has spoken. I am 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 in a statement.
Duterte also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the release of heinous-crime convicts under the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.
“The records are there. It’s very clear,” he said.
Faeldon came under fire after news surfaced that his agency had approved the early release of former Caluan mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez.
Grilled by senators on the matter, the BuCor chief admitted on Monday that he signed an order that started the processing of Sanchez’s release order. He added that he had no choice but to follow Republic Act 10592 or the GCTA Law.
Data released by the bureau showed that of the 22,049 convicts released from 2014 to 2019 for good conduct time allowance, 1,914 were convicted of heinous crimes such as murder and rape.
Duterte said he wanted prisoners convicted of heinous crimes but who were released early to surrender in 15 days.
Those who refuse to surrender would be treated as fugitives from justice.
“Lahat ng nakulong at na-release sa batas na ito, 1,700 of you, you surrender and have yourself registered with the BuCor. I will give you 15 days liberty provided you make yourself available anytime that you will be called for investigation to have a recomputation or if there’s an investigation of corruption that you cooperate fully,” Duterte said.
“If you do not, then beginning at this hour, you are a fugitive from justice. And you will be treated as a criminal who is evading the law and well you know things can go wrong. Mag-surrender na kayo (Surrender) to the nearest police or military detachment wherever you are now,” he added.
The President said he was considering putting up a P1-million bounty on the head of each released convict.
“Maybe [in] three days, I will decide. P1 million per head. Dead or alive,” he added.
The President said he was ready to be impeached if his order was unconstitutional.
“I am ready to be investigated and I’m ready for an impeachment. And I’m ready to resign if warranted. But that is my decision and that is mine and mine alone. So anybody acting upon my orders will be treated as exercising good faith,” he added.
Duterte also defended his spokesman, Salvador Panelo, who drew flak for referring the letter of the Sanchez family seeking clemency for the former mayor to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP).
“It was not his fault. ‘Pag dumating sa kanya (when the letter arrived at his desk), inirefer niya (he referred it) to the proper entity. ‘Yun nga ‘yung board (That’s the board). Panelo did not commit any infraction,” he said.
Panelo served as one of Sanchez’s defense counsels.
The BPP, however, dismissed Sanchez’s petition for executive clemency in December 2018.
Panelo on Tuesday insisted that he did not intervene in the plea for executive clemency of his former client.
“The referral letter speaks for itself,” Panelo told reporters. “I never recommended anything.”
Some senators agreed with the President’s decision.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Faeldon should step down.
“Maliwanag na nagkaroon ng kapalpakan sa proseso. Walang coordination sa DoJ. (It is clear that there was some mistake in the process [of release under the GCTA Law]. There was no coordination with the DoJ (Department of Justice),” Pangilinan said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier called on Faeldon to take a leave of absence “for delicadeza.”
“Prudence dictates at least the very least [Faeldon must] offer a leave of absence to the President. To allow the President to conduct the investigation that the President wants,” Zubiri said.
Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao agreed with Zubiri, saying Faeldon should spare the President from embarrassment.
“The President is unnecessarily dragged into this whole mess being the appointing authority. If Undersecretary Faeldon truly respects the President, he must do the right thing. I’m pretty sure everything will work out for him in the end,” Pacquiao said.
“I know that Undersecretary Faeldon is a good man and has served his country well but I really think that he can spare the President and this administration from embarrassment by taking a leave of absence,” he added.
With Bernadette Tamayo and Javier Joe Ismael