No to Sanchez release

August 23, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not allow convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez to be released from prison as a beneficiary of a 2013 law expanding the application of good conduct time allowances for convicts, Malacañang said Friday.

“Mr. Sanchez, under Republic Act 10592 is not eligible. So the President as chief enforcer of the law will have to follow the law,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters.

Sen. Bong Go earlier said Duterte was outraged over Sanchez’s impending release from prison.

“I can’t speak in behalf of the President, pero kami nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga si-nite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go was quoted as saying of the reaction of the President, a former prosecutor.

(I can’t speak in behalf of the President, but when we talked, the President got angry and he said he does not agree and cited a law, in short he doesn’t like it, he’s upset.)

“Magagalit siya because if the law says he’s disqualified eh bakit mo mako-consider,” Panelo told reporters.

Malacañang, in an earlier statement, echoed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in pointing out that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage.”

“Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that all those convicted of a heinous crime, including Mr. Antonio Sanchez, would be ineligible and disqualified from availing the benefits of the GCTA,” Panelo said.

Panelo, who previously served as Sanchez’s defense counsel, meanwhile, expressed doubt over viral pictures hinting that the former mayor had been in and out of jail.

“I doubt very much. Nasa high security siya, malabo ‘yun (He’s in high security, that’s not probable),” Panelo said.

Panelo said the Palace supports the directive of Justice Secretary Guevarra for a strict recomputation of GCTAs in all cases involving heinous crimes. Guevarra has also said Sanchez might not be eligible under the law because he was convicted of a heinous crime.

Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon said the agency has yet to review Sanchez’s records but has initially found that he may not be released soon on account of “not good behaviors.” While detained at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison, the former mayor had been charged with possession of illegal drugs.

It was earlier reported that Sanchez, who was sentenced to lengthy jail terms in the 1993 rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez, is one of the thousands of inmates eligible for time reductions to their sentence due to GCTA.

BuCor personnel are recomputing the GCTAs of some 11,000 inmates in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling that declared the law on GCTAs should be applied retroactively, or to all cases, even from before the enactment of the measure in 2013.

Panelo said public sentiment on the law and its recent interpretation by the high court was “understandable.”

“As we have said, our task is to merely execute what the laws ... as they stand. We reiterate, however, that while the Executive branch has no discretion in the implementation of the GCTA, the law still allows for the proper evaluation of inmates to ensure their proper coverage,” Panelo said.

“Otherwise stated, while the Executive branch is constrained to grant the benefit of the GCTA, it will only grant it to those who are entitled to such benefit.”

The Palace also welcomed the plan of lawmakers to review the law on GCTAs.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon have filed separate resolutions on the matter.

No SC order

The Supreme Court yesterday clarified that it did not order the release of ex-Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez when it ruled that Republic Act 10592 should be applied retroactively.

SC public information office chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka stressed the SC only ruled on the manner of application of RA 10592 increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of qualified prisoners.

Hosaka said the SC’s basis for the application of RA 10592 is the doctrine in criminal law that penal laws are applied retroactively.

With Hector Lawas