Unclear

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.

Least guilty?

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is now talking about Janet Lim Napoles being a state witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. I don’t know why Roxas is dwelling on a purely legal matter but things have to straightened out before the issues become so entangled, and we lose sight of the meat of the matter. Although I’m not a lawyer, I have gained enough knowledge in the law to argue that Napoles does not meet the criteria for state witness. She is not the least guilty. And she isn’t needed to pin down the senators and congressmen, as well as Executive Branch officials, who are involved in the corruption.

The principle of conspiracy is that the act of one is the act of all. Hence, Napoles conspired with the legislators, executive department officials, and her own employees in the bogus non-government organizations to rip off the Filipino taxpayers. In that equation, the guilt of Napoles assumes a higher level than the legislators and executive department officials in their individual capacities. Napoles was the mother lode for the scam.

It would be a mistake for Roxas, and the Aquino government, to even consider Napoles as state witness material. Easily, Napoles could be regarded as the mastermind. Or at the least, she could be considered “chairman of the board” for the corruption conglomerate.

And because of the magnitude of her involvement, she is vulnerable to pressure from government to testify this way or that. She is vulnerable to manipulation. This administration can order her to pin down certain legislators and clear others. It’s one ugly and rotten situation which we can’t allow to happen.

The Aquino government should look no further than the whistle-blowers who have exposed to entire racket in the first place. As employees of Napoles, they had direct involvement and participation in the operations of the NGOs. They had direct knowledge of the corrupt transactions. In many instances, they were present in the hand-over of the oodles and oodles of cash, the fruit of the corruption. The government can’t find more credible witnesses than the likes of Benhur Luy and his companions.