Gordon says Faeldon not absolved from GCTA fiasco

Robie de Guzman   •   September 20, 2019   •   1115

Nicanor Faeldon

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said that sacked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)chief Nicanor Faeldon is not absolved from the controversy on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Gordon made the statement to clarify reports he is allegedly making an effort to steer Faeldon away from the GCTA mess.

The senator said the former BuCor chief remains accountable for being incompetent and negligent.

Gordon said Faeldon admitted his lack of knowledge on a Department of Justice (DOJ) order requiring the approval of the BuCor director general for the release of prisoners with expired sentence, as well as the approval of the Secretary of Justice to freed inmates who are sentenced to life imprisonment.

Faeldon was grilled at the start of the inquiry of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice and Human Rights Committees weeks ago on the questionable application of the GCTA law and the alleged irregularities in the agency relating to its implementation.

Faeldon’s lack of awareness over the DOJ order no. 953, Gordon said, led him to permit the early release of former Calauan mayor, who was convicted of rape and murder.

“Faeldon was not cleared from the corruption in BuCor as what stated on reports, specifically sa mga anomalya sa New Bilibid Prison.

“Naimbestigahan na siya sa Senado at siya’y umamin na hindi niya alam ang tungkol sa department order ng DOJ. Clearly, that is negligence of duty. Kaya nga siya nasibak sa puwesto,” Gordon said.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier said he believes Faeldon should be held liable for the GCTA mess which wrongly released more than 1,900 convicts of heinous crimes.

The issue led to President Rodrigo Duterte’s dismissal of Faeldon and the launching of investigation by the Ombudsman on the alleged anomalies involving BuCor officials.

The controversy also prompted the revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10592 or otherwise known as the GCTA law, which now specifically states who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants.

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s memorandum prohibiting officials and employees from the Executive Department from attending hearings conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on contracts between the government and the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

During a hearing by the Senate finance committee on the DOJ’s 2022 proposed budget, Guevarra said the memo does not seek to defy the congressional authority to hold legislative inquiries.

“To me, the objective or the essence of this memo is not to defy your authority or prerogative but to protest the manner the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings has been conducted during the past few weeks,” he said.

He also pointed out that the memo was only confined to a particular probe.

The memorandum order signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea covers specifically the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s legislative inquiries into the Commission on Audit report flagging the alleged deficiencies in COVID-19 pandemic spending.

Guevarra clarified that he was not involved in the drafting of the memo but he believes that the main concern may be the amount of time that Cabinet officials spend in the hearing.

The hearings that have since spanned to Duterte’s appointees and other individuals, have been going on for two months.

Guevarra said that this period should have been enough for lawmakers to see if there is any law that needs to be amended or enacted, or some legal provisions that need to be repealed.

He also said he is willing to speak to Medialdea to discuss the memo but stressed that the Senate panel should also make some adjustments as to the manner and timing of the attendance of officials from the Executive branch..

Some groups, including the Philippine Bar Association, have called on Duterte to reconsider his memo as it upsets the system of checks and balances in the government.

Duterte on Senate probe into Pharmally: ‘More than martial law’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the Senate order to detain Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director Linconn Ong as “more than martial law”.

In his weekly talk to the nation aired Monday night (September 27), Duterte criticized the Senate’s “intimidation” tactics in its investigation on government transactions with Pharmally.

Akala ko ba ayaw ng mga taong Pilipinas ng martial law? Tingnan mo ang ginagawa ng Senado ngayon, (I thought the Philippines does not like martial law? Look at what the Senate is doing now), it is just more than a martial law,” he said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon has ordered Ong’s detention after citing the latter for contempt for allegedly evading questions regarding Pharmally’s P8 billion worth of transactions with the government. Ong was supposed to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail.

Duterte said the Senate panel is not really looking for answers but expecting specific replies from summoned resource persons.

Kung ayaw ninyo ang sagot, magagalit kayo tapos you threaten (If you don’t like the answer you will get mad and threaten) you will—’We will cite you in contempt and we can detain you forever.’ Is that how a civilized Congress works? Takutan ba ito (Is this intimidation),” he said.

“Do not blame him because that is his truth. You just cannot assume altogether that he is lying. That would be a cockeyed view of what a hearing should be,” he added.

Duterte also wondered what the human rights advocates have to say regarding the issue.

“So ang Human Rights, gusto kong marinig kung ano rin ang sinasabi (I also want to know what they have to say). The Constitution really provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Is there a due process of law if you already have the preconceived answer? And if it does not dovetail your frame of mind, you send him to jail?” he asked.

The president addressed Senator Richard Gordon anew during his speech, telling him to “try to be a lawyer and not a despot.”

“You are not the king of Congress. Please do it for the sake of you, your family, and for the country,” he said. AAC

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