MANILA - 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.
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.
Sanchez was convicted of the rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the slay of her companion Allan Gomez in June 1993. The court then described the crime as "a plot hatched in hell."
The former Calauan, Laguna mayor was sentenced to 7 terms of reclusion perpetua (40 years each term) and has served 24 years since his conviction in 1995.
Sen. Bong Go, in a radio interview, 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 sinite 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.
(He will really get angry if the law says he's disqualified, then why should he be considered?)
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.