PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte had ordered Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon not to release convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, Senator Bong Go said yesterday.
“Nung nalaman ni Pangulong Duterte yang balitang yan, ipinarating niya po kay BuCor chief Nick Faeldon at kay Secretary Guevarra na huwag i-release (si Sanchez) upon the order of the higher authority,” Go said
“Sino pa ba ang higher authority? Not higher authorities, higher authority. Ibig sabihin ang Pangulo,” he added.
Go, who was Duterte’s special assistant before he ran for senator in the May 2019 elections, said the order was given Wednesday night.
Go said Duterte was angered by reports that Sanchez — a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, convicted for the 1993 rape-slaying of college student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Sarmenta’s friend Allan Gomez — could be released soon on the basis of a reduced sentence due to “good conduct” in prison.
A lawyer, Duterte believes that Sanchez, having committed a heinous crime, is “excluded” from Republic Act No. 10592, Go said.
“Abugado po ang Pangulo. Pinag-aaralan niya ang batas. Excluded po siya (Sanchez) dun sa Republic Act No. 10592. Sa Section 1, excluded ang lahat ng heinous crimes,” he said.
Despite his decades-old conviction, Sanchez has maintained his innocence in the Sarmenta-Gomez killings.
Two House leaders have joined the clamor for Not releasing the former Calauan, Laguna mayor.
Both Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman and Deputy Minority Leader Janet Garin urged the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to study carefully the case of Sanchez as the weight of his charges does not qualify him to early release.
“The life sentence that the rapist-killer Sanchez received is not enough to pay for the deaths of the two victims who suffered terribly,” Garin said.
“I empathize with the families whose pain still lingers. Releasing him will not just stir the pain but will also constitute as a continuous threat to the witnesses and the families of the victims,” she added.
Meanwhile, Hataman said the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for thousands of qualified prisoners should not be derailed by the case of one man, as it constitutes “the greater injustice.”
“The case of Antonio Sanchez should not imperil the fate of around 10,000 prisoners who are qualified for early conditional release by their remorse, rehabilitation and good conduct. They have earned it. Tuloy tuloy dapat ang evaluation for GCTA program,” Hataman said.
“Pwedeng i-hold muna ang approval, pero dapat tuloy-tuloy ang processing. Magandang batas naman ito. Call Sanchez a monster, but the law, the GCTA, hindi dapat mag-suffer. We can review the law, but I believe we should not repeal it,” he added.
The Basilan legislator also said that from a fiscal standpoint, it makes sense to push through with the program, as the Bureau of Jail Management Penology under the Department of Interior and Local Government has a proposed budget of P18.6 billion for next year.
With an inmate population of 182,556 projected for 2020, the annual per prisoner burden to taxpayers is P101,886.
For her part, Garin said until now the people feel how gruesome and painful the incident is.
“Hanggang ngayon po ay kinikilabutan pa ako kapag naaalala ko ang mga nangyari. Lalo na ngayon at muling lumalabas sa balita at social media ang karumaldumal na sinapit ng magkasintahan sa kamay ni Sanchez at ng kanyang mga tauhan. And when I heard the mother of Eileen break down in tears in an interview, I cannot help but commiserate and feel strongly for both families as a mother myself,” she said.
The Department of Justice yesterday dismissed speculations that the co-accused of Sanchez are no longer in prison.
“The info that we got from prison officials is that they are still doing time,” said DOJ spokesman and Undersecretary Mark Perete.
Sanchez’s co-accused are then Calauan town police deputy Chief George Medialdea, Luis Corcolon, Rogelio “Boy” Corcolon, Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brio, and Pepito Kawit.
This developed as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also announced yesterday that a department order will be released today creating a task force consisting of the Bureau of Corrections, Board of Pardons and Parole, and possibly the Department of the Interior and Local Government, to review the guidelines for prisoners seeking reduced sentence.
Guevara expressed optimism that the DOJ could complete in 10 days the review of the guidelines
“Gusto naming bigyan ‘to ng top priority. Ayaw naming patagalin kasi kawawa naman ‘yung mga inmates natin na talagang validly ay meron nang karapatang makalabas dahil sila naman ay makikitang nareporma na, nagbago na. ‘Yang batas na ‘yan ay para sa kanila,” Guevarra said.
With, Jester P. Manalastas, Hector Lawas