Walk for Creation
In 2003 the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for the celebration of Creation Day and Creation time. The bishops recommended that the liturgies celebrate “the beauty and pain of our world, our connectedness to the natural world and the ongoing struggle for social justice”. In 2015, Pope Francis, established September 1st as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”. This year, it is celebrated from September 1 to October 4.
As of press time, the Walk for Creation is scheduled at 4:00 o’clock in the morning of September 01 at Plaza Aurora at Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City. His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will be the Mass Presider with concelebrants Bishop Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David of the Diocese of Kalookan and Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila.
According to Cardinal Tagle, it is the day when we should thank the Lord for the gift of nature and also learn to take care of others. Bishop Ambo also appealed to the faithful to join the event and show their care because “we only have one world we live in. As what Pope Francis said, the Earth is our common home so let us take care of it.” The CBCP-NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace) said that the event is “The Web of Life, to remind us that we are part of a single, wondrously complex web of life that reflects the magnificence of the Creator.”
There was furor in social media and demonstration of outrage from different sectors when release papers of convicted murderer and rapist former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez was reportedly signed by Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon. The document allegedly stated that Sanchez “was found to have served 40 years upon retroactive application of RA No. 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) and was certified to have no other legal cause to be further detained.” The release of Sanchez was scheduled on August 20 and his family was already waiting for him on that day outside the Penitentiary.
It will be remembered that Sanchez was charged with 7 counts of rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and murder of Allan Gomez, both students at U.P. Los Baňos. After raping Sarmenta, Sanchez gave her to his bodyguards who gang-raped her and killed her afterwards, despite her plea for life. Allan Gomez was tortured before killing him. Sanchez was found guilty with 7 term of reclusion perpetua (life sentence composed of 40 years per term).
The controversy came out with the passage of RA No. 10592 which provides that “offenders or accused who have undergone preventive imprisonment shall be credited in the service of their sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty, with the full time during which they have undergone preventive imprisonment if the detention prisoner agrees voluntarily in writing after being informed of the effects thereof and with the assistance of counsel to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners.” However, the said law excluded from its coverage the recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes. With that, Sanchez is disqualified from the coverage of this law.
It is a good thing that the impending release of Sanchez came out in the open and public opinion set the tempo for justice to prevail. However, it was not what happened in other controversial cases. It is reported by Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 29, 2019 at Inquirer.Net that a total of 1,914 convicts of heinous crimes were among the 22,049 prisoners who were released from jail after their GCTAs were recomputed. They were convicted of murder and rape, robbery with violence, violation of Dangerous Drugs Act, parricide, kidnapping with illegal detention and destructive arson. We call on the government agencies to conduct an investigation on the veracity of this report because the provision of R.A. 10592 is very clear, those convicted of heinous crimes are disqualified from this law. The BuCor should not be the only one to consider who would be qualified under this law. There is a big temptation for corruption in the lowering of detention period and granting release to convicted persons. Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered BuCor to suspend the processing of GCTA beneficiaries after his premature announcement of the impending release of Sanchez was met with public anger.
With all these controversies, the Philippine National Police (PNP) should also conduct an impartial investigation on the “suspicious” killing of Ruperto Traya Jr., a Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) chief administrative officer III, whose death was being linked to the cancelled release of Sanchez. Traya’s division was in charge of collating and processing all paperwork regarding the re-computation of the credits of convicts’ good conduct time allowance under the retroactive R.A. 10592. The investigation will not only give justice to the victim, but will also identify the real motive behind his murder.