MANILA -- Smuggling "shabu" inside a Virgin Mary statue while in jail for rape and murder makes former town mayor Antonio Sanchez unqualified for "good conduct" credits that will pave the way for his early release, a government official who oversaw his most notorious conviction said Thursday.
While serving time for the murders of University of Los Banos students Allan Gomez and Eileen Sarmenta, whom he also raped, Sanchez was convicted in 1999 for a separate murder case, said Senator Franklin Drilon, the justice secretary in 1995 when the ex-mayor was sentenced to life in prison for the Gomez-Sarmenta case.
"Is this good behavior?" said Drilon, who said he was "shocked and saddened" by news of Sanchez's possible release. "He is not entitled to credits for good behavior."
"There can be abuse in the process. There are certain facts that must be ascertained," Drilon told ANC.
Sarmenta's family has "every reason to feel aggrieved," said Drilon.
"We are appealing to the Department of Justice to hold on the impending release of (ex) Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez until we review carefully the circumstances," he said.
The killings of Sarmenta and Gomez were among the most widely followed crimes in the Philippines in the 1990s.
According to court documents, Sanchez's henchmen offered Sarmenta to him as a "gift" and watched as he raped her. The judge who convicted the mayor said the plot seemed to have been hatched from hell.