Press Release
September 14, 2019

Drilon backs DOJ stronger control over BuCor

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is eyeing an amendment to the Republic Act 10575 that will give the Department of Justice (DOJ) stronger control over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), saying that the "too powerful" bureau and its corrupt officials are to be blamed for the corrupt practices in the bureau.

"It is time to give more teeth to the department of justice. There are a number of critical agencies over which the department has limited to zero control," Drilon said in an interview over radio station DWIZ on Saturday.

"Ang unahin natin yung batas na nagbibigay lamang ng administrative supervision doon sa secretary of justice sa Bureau of Corrections. Ang ibig sabihin niyan, nagkikita lang ang BuCor at secretary of justice kapag panahon ng budget, dahil wala siyang supervision and control," he added.

Drilon was referring to the Republic Act 10575, which was enacted in 2013 and removed DOJ's control over BuCor, except for its administrative supervision.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra called for a review of the said law in light of corruption allegations in the bureau.

"Noong ako ay justice secretary, ang pinapa-approve sa akin yung pagbili ng munggo sa Muntinlupa. Ang sabi ko, hindi ako naging secretary of justice para lang mag-approve ng pagkain," Drilon recalled.

"This is one of the loopholes that we should look into. The corrupt officials in the BuCor took advantage of the law that gave too much power to the bureau to the extent that there is no more check and balance," Drilon said.

Under RA 10575, Drilon said the BuCor director has become all too powerful.

"Ang sa akin, ang kailangan ay stronger contro ng DOJl, dahilan, in effect, naging independent agency ang BuCor director - walang nag-supervise and walang check and balance," he added.

"The justice secretary is left in the dark because he has no direct control and supervision of the bureau," he added.

Drilon said that while there is a department order requiring the approval of the justice secretary on the release of heinous crime convicts, it is cleared that it was ignored a number of times.

"We should give the DOJ direct control at supervision of the BuCor consistent with the Department of Order 953 that required that the release of heinous crime convicts must have prior approval of the justice secretary. This is a form of control but it is only a department order. We need to amend the law to provide a legal basis for this," Drilon said.

Aside from BuCor, Drilon cited the Public Attorneys Office, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration, where the DOJ has no control over.

Meanwhile, Drilon said it is unfair to put the blame on detained Senator Leila de Lima, saying that the former justice secretary only interpreted the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law, which, he admitted, is vague.

Drilon said he would object to the committee report if it unfairly blames De Lima for the GCTA mess.

"Tututol po ako sa committee report kung sasabihin nila na may pagkukulang si Sen. De Lima.It is clear that Sen. De Lima was trying to interpret the law that the Congress passed, which was vague. Sen. De Lima is not at fault. She was exercising her best judgment in interpreting the law," Drilon said.

"Nakakalungkot na siya yung pinupuntirya. Ang nangyari sa BuCor ngayon ay hindi pagkakamali ni Sen. De Lima," he added.

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