By: Reyshimar Arguelles
The Bureau of Corrections had scheduled to release more than 2,000 inmates through the controversial good conduct time allowance law, a decision that was met with widespread condemnation that had everybody wanting to oust the agency’s chief Nicanor Faeldon from the civil service for good.
From the outset, Faeldon should’ve spared himself from getting into trouble after a mortifying debacle during his time as head of the Bureau of Customs when a shabu shipment valued over P6.4 billion had snuck into the country via Cavite. Instead of being held responsible for making the drug problem even worse, Faeldon was transferred to the Office of Civil Defense and finally replaced Bato dela Rosa as chief of the BuCor, where he disgraced himself even more.
Now, people are demanding Faeldon to step down while the Duterte administration is still mum on what to do with this problem child. The man is a sea urchin that stings you no matter how carefully you handle it.
Perhaps Faeldon could be a Kafkaesque character who is terrorized by misfortune. Perhaps he is really empty of the capacity to do a good job even if you let him babysit a chihuahua. Perhaps there are clandestine forces working within the Duterte administration to discredit the former Magdalo rebel and cull support for the revival of capital punishment.
We don’t know for sure, but for the administration’s rally-rousers, the BuCor’s recent gaff has intensified the need to kill off convicts as if it would deter heinous crimes from happening. It also purports to prove the second Aquino administration’s supposed predilection for criminality for enacting a law that runs counter to President Duterte’s own style of criminal justice.
Buried under these calls for blood is the fact that the GCTA has specific rules for allowing certain convicts to walk free. It’s clear that the law excludes perpetrators of heinous crimes from benefiting. Ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, for instance, deserves to rot in jail for what he did to students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez in 1991. To even include Sanchez along with several Chinese drug convicts among those who are more deserving to walk out of death row shows us the glaring disregard and laziness with which the current administration operates.
If Faeldon had any respect for his office, such a decision would have been carefully deliberated, especially if it’s responsible for keeping society’s monsters locked in. But during the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee’s inquiry into the issue, Faeldon kept himself from answering that he was indeed responsible for shortlisting candidates that would have benefited from the law. In the same vein, he also denied having ordered the release of Sanchez despite issuing a memorandum he couldn’t have possibly overlooked.
Because of this and the indignation he had sowed, Faeldon has caused the delay in the release of inmates who have earned their freedom under fair terms, which means to say they did nothing to imperil their chances at freedom.
You can only doubt that Faeldon had acted fairly when he could scrutinize any recommendation for release, particularly for high-profile inmates like Sanchez who we all know is living comfortably like a vacationer at the New Bilibid Prison. And while elderly, sickly, and reformed inmates await emotionally for their return home, the Sanchez family had the gall to hold a welcome party for their psychopathic patriarch.
What’s certain from all this is the fact that ousting black sheep like Faeldon is akin to believing that food supplements can cure terminal diseases. Injustice is systemic in this country, and now that there’s even more clamor for the death penalty to be reinstituted, we can expect those in power to treat justice as a game that’s not in favor of those who are in dire need of it.
And just like that, Faeldon refuses to leave his post, saying he would defer the decision to the “appointing authority.” Former legal counsel of the Sanchez camp and now Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo says that President Duterte still trusts Faeldon and that there’s a possibility of transferring him to another agency.
Who knows what Faeldon could do (or not do) in his future post. But it’s good for him that at the very least he has a future to look forward to – despite being a constant failure.