LAST WEEK, we took President Aquino to task for not axing Bureau of Corrections Director Eduardo Diokno following the arrest of a high-profile homicide convict as he was leaving a building he owned in Makati City which he regularly visited in many of his unauthorized trips like he was a virtual free man.

The “prison break” of convicted killer Jose Antonio Leviste was the result of an intensive joint surveillance by NBI agents and a TV news crew based on tips that the former Batangas governor once married to Sen. Loren Legarda has been sneaking out of prisons as a “living out” prisoner.

President Aquino promptly called Diokno on the spot and told him he was disgusted with what happened.

Diokno then decided to go on leave while an inquiry was under way.

A few days later, however, Diokno surprisingly offered his irrevocable resignation as BuCor chief even though he was cleared of responsibility in the Leviste controversy.

Diokno did the honorable thing with his “graceful exit,” which is a rarity among beleaguered public officials.

The President praised Diokno for “his service and his delicadeza” and for not being a “kapit tuko,” alluding to a political specie who clings to power at any cost.

The President pointed out he felt the pain of Diokno, a police officer who helped protect his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, during the many coups staged against her administration.

The President also said he would hold all cabinet secretaries responsible for inaction or incompetence in their departments.

He added he would review their performance from time to time, including his own.

The Leviste misadventure, it is hoped, will spur thoroughgoing reforms in the penal system, including the grant of living-out privileges to wealthy and influential inmates.

The crackdown should not end with charges against Leviste’s custodian, who is just one of many rotten apples in the New Bilibid Prisons.

If justice is to be served, the President should try to implement the reforms contained in the fact-finding investigation of the Department of Justice.

Past NBP officials who introduced the living-out accommodations should not be spared.