August 21, 2019
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied on Wednesday that he has a hand in the imminent release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna.
Panelo became one of the lawyers of Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua, which is imprisonment of up to 40 years, for raping and killing University of the Philippines-Los Banos students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez in 1993.
"That's too far. I was his lawyer 27 years ago. I withdrew (as his lawyer) even before the appeal (was made)," Panelo told reporters in a phone-patch interview when asked if he could be behind Sanchez's possible release from jail.
But Panelo admitted he was happy that Sanchez could be one of around 11,000 inmates who could benefit from Republic Act 10592, a law which increases the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.
The law provides that for good behavior shown by an inmate while in jail, a certain number of days is deducted from every year of sentence.
"Just like what the other former lawyers would feel, a lawyer would be happy that his client 27 years ago would be released soon and would have a new life," he said.
Echoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Panelo said there was no need for any individual, including him, to intervene in order to free Sanchez from jail since there is a law that provides for it.
"If the law as it is crafted says all the inmates who are qualified to be released, then that's what the law says and we have to as we always repeatedly say, there is the rule of law and we have to abide by the rule of law," he explained.
According to Guevarra, Sanchez and other inmates who have shown good behavior while in prison would be released within two months.
Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte's approval for the release of the inmates might no longer be needed.
For those who have concern that Sanchez would be one of the beneficiaries of the 2013 law despite his sentence of seven terms of reclusion perpetua, Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, advised them to address it to Congress.
"Law has been crafted by Congress. Whatever concern they have should be addressed to Congress," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS
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