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Ombudsman Samuel Martires has ordered a team of investigators to conduct an exhaustive investigation of officials from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) involved in the release of prisoners under Republic Act No. 10592 (Good Conduct Time Allowance Law).

Pursuant to the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman to prioritize complaints involving grave offenses, Ombudsman Martires has directed its investigators to undertake a thorough and expeditious investigation on the matter. As of press time, investigators have already obtained raw data and pertinent documents from the BuCor. Meanwhile, documents are being gathered from the Department of Justice, Senate, and other relevant agencies.

Under Section 15, paragraph 1, of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989), the Office of the Ombudsman has the power to investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.

Ombudsman Martires stated that “since the Ombudsman has assumed jurisdiction over this case, no other agency is allowed to conduct a parallel investigation unless so authorized by the Ombudsman pursuant to law.” He stressed that “in order to avoid any possible conflicting findings, agencies such as the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which announced its intent to also investigate the matter, should defer to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.”

Under R.A. No. 6770, the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation of such cases.

It will be recalled that 1,914 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes have been granted early release since 2014 after the amendment of the good conduct time allowance law. The BuCor released the data amid uproar over the possible release of former Mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted of the 1993 killings of students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez. ###