General Admission

Prisoner corruption spin a national suspense theater

By Al S. Mendoza

THE ongoing Senate probe on the noise about corruption at the Bureau of Corrections has opened a Pandora’s Box.

It has also unearthed a can of worms.

Pandora’s Box?  Can of worms?

As my good friend, the LA-based Kuya Leony Galvez, loves to say: “The difference is the same.”

To further dramatize things a bit, this saga of allegedly anomalous release of prisoners from Bilibid in Muntinglupa, Rizal, has now become a national suspense theater.

For once, the so-called idiot box aka TV set is serving its purpose:  A vehicle for all to see the wide swath of destruction this GCTA abomination has done—and continue to do so—to the national psyche.

To uninitiated, the GCTA (Good Conduct and Time Allowance) law was designed to reward prisoners behaving well while inside the Bucor (Bureau of Corrections) compound in Bilibid, Muntinglupa, Rizal.

“It is a good law,” said Senate President Tito “Titosen” Sotto.  “It is the implementors who are messing up the law.”

With supposed accumulated hours, days or years of good behavior collected while in prison, an inmate can be released by the power of the GCTA.

But it would now appear that the spirit of the GCTA has been bastardized—on a wide scale basis at that.

Seemingly, evil-minded Bucor officials have been making a killing by forcing inmates to cough out money in exchange for an early release from detention.

In short, a “GCTA For Sale” syndicate has been thriving for years, if not decades, inside Bucor.

This was exposed when Antonio Sanchez, the convicted rapist-murderer serving nine life terms since 1995, started hogging the headlines in his bid for freedom—aborted promptly even before it could take off the ground.

It was triggered by nosy media people, who got wind of Sanchez’s impending release—with the information volunteered by Bucor chief Nicanor Faeldon himself.

Immediately, it drew a storm of public outcry.

Before it reached the tipping point, President Duterte stepped in and ordered a stop to Sanchez’s release.

Then imagined anomalies started to take form as inmates other than Sanchez’s were reported to have been released under scandalous circumstances.

When our senators dug in the records, they counted almost 2,000 released prisoners under suspicious reasons.

Freedom for sale started to rent the air.

Sanchez’s three of seven henchmen also convicted for the 1993 rape-murder of Aileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez, were reported released, too, on dubious grounds.

Worst, even the convicts in the infamous Chiong Sisters slay in Cebu in 1997 had also been allowed to walk as free men—seemingly, also for a fee.

The scandalously gruesome events have prodded the Senate to continue investigating, even as Mr. Duterte has already relieved Faeldon as Bucor chief.

My salutations go to Titosen for his steadfast stance to instill order at Bucor—and at the justice system overall—in essence adding another critical backbone to President Duterte’s tireless fight against corruption.

Mabuhay ka, Titosen!

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