I'm Blameless


MANILA, Philippines - Why put the blame on me?This was stressed by embattled Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Ernesto Diokno when he appeared before the Department of Justice (DoJ) fact-finding panel which is investigating the unauthorized trip of former Batangas Governor Jose Antonio Leviste outside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.But as Diokno continues to claim innocence, Malacanang reminded all public officials to put public interest first before their own.Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that it will be Diokno's own discretion to resign from his post following the Leviste issue. Diokno, who took a leave of absence last Monday amid calls for him to resign and save President Benigno S. Aquino III from humiliation brought about the Leviste caper issue, washed his hands over the blunder and instead pointed his fingers at NBP officials, particularly on NBP head Chief Superintendent Ramon Reyes when he appeared before the DoJ panel."Ang paniwala ko po, hindi ako dapat sisihin, kasi ako ay sa policy-making lang," Diokno told the panel as he firmly stood on his belief that sanctions for "command responsibility" should not reach him.If there was someone to be blamed for Leviste's caper, Diokno insisted it should not be him but Reyes and the custodian tasked to look after the former governor and the rest of the inmates enjoying the "living-out" and "sleep-out" privileges.Convicts who enjoy "living-out" privileges are allowed to roam the NBP compound during daytime as part of the program to help them reintegrate into society. They, however have to go back to the minimum security prison during the night."Sleep-out" inmates, on the other hand, can spend the night in private but away from their prison cell at the minimum security compound.It was learned on Tuesday that both privileges granted to inmates of the NBP are not included in the BuCor manual.When Diokno was told by Senior State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay, a panel member, that a BuCor chief does not only deal with policy-making but also the execution of penal policies, he was adamant and insisted he should not be blamed."Your duties and functions are expressly stated in the law. You are supposed to administer and execute the laws to prisoners and inmates and enforce the rules governing the operations and management of prison," Dacanay said."You have a big responsibility. You are not merely a figurehead there. You have specific functions stated by the law. This does not only involve policy, but also rules and regulations for the effective [running] of BuCor," she said. …

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