"Secretary Guevarra is a quiet worker."
Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has summoned Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag to shed light on the deaths of several detainees in the New Bilibid Prison recently.
Guevarra’s directive came in the wake of reports that one of those who died from COVID-19 complications is notorious druglord Jaybee Sebastian, who turned state witness against former Justice Secretary and now-detained Senator Leila De Lima over drugs charges.
This is truly ironic as we take cognizance of the improved image of the DOJ under Guevarra’s stewardship, one of the few deserving kudos in next week’s State of the Nation’s Address (SONA) of President Duterte.
I would not be surprised if I hear a few kind words from the President about the Justice Secretary, who deserves a special mention as much as a few others do, like Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
The others are no more than publicity wh*res who pay for radio and online media interviews to make themselves look good even though they have yet to prove their worth.
Guevarra, whom the President appointed Justice secretary in April 2018, has since transformed the DOJ into an efficient and effective administrator of justice.
He literally recycled a garbage left by former officials whose mentality was “May pera sa basura.”
His true mark of selflessness and dedication as a public servant can be gleaned from the two occasions he has declined nomination to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice to replace retiring magistrates. One was last year; the other was over two weeks ago.
In his letter to retired Sandiganbayan associate justice Raoul Victorino who nominated him twice, Guevarra said: “Your nomination has again once opened a path for me to pursue this dream, and this may well be my last chance to go for it. It is unfortunate, however, that this opportunity has come at a time when my services as Secretary of the Department of Justice are most needed.”
Guevarra noted that the country is facing a “huge and unprecedented crisis” because of COVID-19 during which “law and order must be preserved and maintained.”
We trust Manong Digong will give credit where credit is due and to tell it as it is, as far as the performance of the nincompoops surrounding him are concerned, exacerbating the impact of the pandemic chaos in the country and aggravating the hunger and suffering of the impoverished Filipinos with their incompetence and inefficient management.
Guevarra earned the respect of some journalists when he admitted that he was not consulted by the Inter-Agency Task Force generals regarding the house-to-house police manhunt for COVID-19 patients.
He maintained it should be the health workers and not the police who should conduct the drive if it is to be done legally and encourage patients to get treatment.
This quiet worker on Padre Faura who passed up a strong chance at a seat in the High Court has helped DOJ regain the respectability it lost during the reign of corruption within its walls and in the auspices of its attached agencies.
DOJ’s attached agencies include: the BuCor, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, Parole and Probation Administration, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Public Attorney’s Office, Land Registration Authority and the Office of the Solicitor General.
The massive Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) irregularities, rampant case-fixing on the deportation of undesirable aliens, and illegal drugs protection racket are but a few of the corrupt practices that went on in DOJ’s backyard during previous managements, rivaling the notoriety of other agencies like the Bureau of Customs.
With DOJ still under Guevarra’s watch, we can rest assured it is in good hands, at least for the next two years.