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Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One An irony in Digong’s watch

An irony in Digong’s watch

 

RAMON T. TULFO

HOW ironic that the release of thousands of prisoners, most of them convicted of heinous crimes, had to take place during the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who won because of his reputation as the nemesis of criminals.

Presidential candidate Duterte’s No. 1 campaign promise was to rid society of the dregs or persons who commit murder, robbery and rape, and those who traffic in illegal drugs.


Among the 1,740 prisoners who were given freedom, 745 were rape convicts, 748 were convicted for murder, 32 for kidnapping, 23 for killing their own kin and 156 for drug trafficking.

Included in the list were three men who were convicted for the rape and murder of sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong in Cebu in 1997.

If not for the public outcry, former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was sentenced seven terms of reclusion perpetua (40 years per term) for the rape-murder of University of the Philippines coed Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her boyfriend, Allan Gomez, in 1993, would also have been set free.

One of Sanchez’s co-accused, who was also convicted, is George Medialdea, former Calauan police chief, whose botched release had tongues wagging.

Medialdea is a very uncommon name — unlike Cruz, Santos and Reyes — and could be related to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the “little president.”

Tsk, tsk, tsk!

As this columnist has been constantly harping on, most of the people surrounding the President are corrupt or incompetent.

Why did it have to take the President himself to put a stop to the exodus of evil inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons when it could have been done by his Cabinet members like Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Executive Secretary Medialdea?

Aren’t Guevarra and Medialdea the President’s surrogates?

Guevarra and Medialdea, on their own, could have prevented Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Nicanor Faeldon from opening the gates of the Muntinlupa prison.

Granting there is a law commuting the sentence of prisoners for good behavior, didn’t it occur to Guevarra and Medialdea that the likes of Sanchez should rot in prison for their heinous crimes?

And Guevarra is supposed to be a brilliant lawyer since he — unlike Medialdea — was a bar topnotcher.

***

President Digong, who could not hide his anger at the news conference Wednesday night, said he was putting up a P1-million reward per head for the prisoners who were illicitly granted freedom.

Digong said he would issue a shoot-to-kill order on the freed prisoners who would not surrender to the police or the military within a few days after Wednesday’s news conference.

The President said he was asking Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez to set aside P1 billion for the recapture of the prisoners, dead or alive.

If I were Digong I would spend part of the huge amount to pay on the sly policemen or military men to execute Faeldon and his cohorts at the New Bilibid Prisons.

For causing the President so much headache, Faeldon and his cohorts should be treated like hardened criminals.

***

It was very unfair of some quarters to impute ill motive on Malacañang spokesman Sal Panelo’s forwarding a letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole requesting for Sanchez’s release from prison.

The letter was just a referral from Panelo’s office, which is something ministerial.

Panelo and other officials in Malacañang, receiving thousands of letters every month from the public requesting assistance, send such letters to various agencies for study.

Whether such letter-requests are granted or not depends on the agency handling them.

Was it Panelo’s fault that he happened to be the legal counsel of Sanchez when the latter was tried for rape and murder decades ago?

The point here is that nowhere in Panelo’s letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole did he put pressure on that office to release his former client.

I have disagreed with Panelo on some issues in the past, but the guy should not be blamed for doing his job.

***

Nicanor Faeldon, the BuCor director-general, has been fired by President Digong for the second time.
There is no chance of his being given another government post.

Faeldon resigned as customs commissioner after a P6.4-billion shipment of crystal meth got out of the customs zone during his watch.

The former Marine captain took part in what has been dubbed as the Oakwood Mutiny along with former senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, then a Navy lieutenant.

The guy seems to be a loser, a sad sack.

Considered second rate by fellow officers in the Philippine Marine Corps who were graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Faeldon wanted to “belong” by joining the Oakwood Mutiny, which was hatched by PMAers.

As an aside, military officers who are ROTC graduates or those who come up from the ranks are discriminated against by the “PMA clique.”

What he didn’t know is that he was considered a force multiplier and not one of the leaders of the 2003 mutiny of young officers.

Pandagdag ng tao (just to add numbers) was how Faeldon’s participation in that mutiny was described by a young PMA officer who took part.

When Faeldon was appointed customs commissioner on June 30, 2016, he brought along with him his fellow Oakwood mutineers to the bureau.

These officers, mostly PMAers, extorted money behind his back from importers by dropping his name, according to my customs sources.

Whether he tolerated their shenanigans or not, Faeldon was eventually kicked out of customs because of them.

At the Bureau of Corrections, his subordinates made a fool of Faeldon by signing release papers of
prisoners in his name.

Whether it had his imprimatur or not is anybody’s guess.

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Today’s Front Page February 26, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 26, 2020