There has been a great deal of discussion about the legal ramifications of the directive issued by President Rodrigo Duterte for nearly 2,000 convicts released under the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law during the last several years.

President Duterte wants a review of the circumstances under which these convicts obtained their freedom in the wake of allegations that corruption was what drove prison officials to issue release orders en masse.

The convicts who have since been given back their liberty were ordered to “surrender” not later than today, September 19, 2019.

Quite a number of convicts have already reported to the nearest police stations in compliance with the directive. Nobody wants to mess around with the President’s order.

But there is a question on the status of convicts who were paroled, which is an entirely different process than getting freed under the GCTA.

In Iloilo, there’s a 79-year old man who was freed from prison two years ago after being paroled. Is he still required to be brought back to a penal colony in Mindoro while officials check his papers?

The PNP is not sure. It’s not their call to make a determination on that, the new Iloilo provincial director, Col. Roland Vilela, said. The PNP wants to be on the safe side and just remit the convicts to the BuCor facility in Mindoro.

Perhaps the Department of Justice should take cognizance of such cases and issue the corresponding clarification. It would be unfair for these individuals who have faithfully served out their minimum sentences to be sent back to jail again.

“Hello Fiscal”

I submitted my counter-affidavit to the libel complaint filed by Senate President Franklin Drilon before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday afternoon (Oct. 8, 2014). I was accompanied by Atty. Eduardo Jalbuna, my counsel for a quarter of a century and countless libel battles. Drilon was represented by two senior associates from the giant law firm, ACCRA.

After I swore before Assistant Prosecutor Alan Mangabat, we engaged in some small talk about the complainant and myself. Prosecutor Mangabat asked me: “Are you from the same place?” I said yes. Atty. Jalbuna jokingly remarked: “They used to be friends.” 10153037_720176171386485_3498928710434374379_n

And then Prosecutor Mangabat, perhaps in a slip, remarked that Drilon and I had similar voices. “Pareho kayong may punto, yung boses ninyo magkapareho. Nang marinig ko ikaw ngayon, parang si Senate President noong tumawag siya sa akin.”

That was heard, too, by Atty. Jalbuna. Drilon’s two lawyers, who were just an arm’s length away, must have heard it, too.

There was no mistake about what I heard. Drilon, the complainant in this case, made a telephone call to the investigating prosecutor

Isn’t this an improper act to influence the outcome of the preliminary investigation?

Atty. Jalbuna thinks so. And over breakfast this morning, we reached a decision to ask for the inhibition of the entire Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office. We will move that the case be transferred to the Department of Justice.

This demonstrates how far, and how crooked, Drilon could go just to persecute me. But as I said, I am not intimidated. I will not wilt in the face of his immense powers.