MANILA - Several Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials connived to set free former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, a rape-slay convict whose supposed release was held back amid public outrage.
Sen. Richard Gordon said this Saturday, citing an "obvious conspiracy" to get Sanchez out.
"Alam mo na hindi dapat palayain, pinalaya mo. Tinago mo pa tapos sabi mo hindi mo pinirmahan, pero ngayon lumalabas may pirma," Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said in an interview on DZMM radio.
(You knew he was not supposed to be freed, but you still gave him a way out. You hid it, said you did not sign the release papers, but now there are reports that showed it was signed.)
"Halatang-halata na may sabwatan," said Gordon, who will head the Senate investigating panel on the matter.
(It's obvious that there was a connivance.)
Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon earlier said that release orders for the former mayor were not signed, but days later, his signatures were seen affixed on documents provided by Sanchez's family, according to reports.
In 1995, Sanchez was sentenced to 7 reclusion perpetua terms (40 years each) in prison for the 1993 rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez.
Reports of his possible early release surfaced earlier this month, as the former mayor was to reportedly benefit from good conduct time allowance (GCTA), a scheme were convicts may be released early for showing good conduct in prison.
The GCTA was expanded through a 2013 law to include detention time in the computation, leading to the release of some 22,000 prisoners, including nearly 2,000 heinous crime convicts, since 2014.
The BuCor earlier said Sanchez was not eligible for a GCTA grant over prison violations, including drug possession.
"Dumaan na 'yan sa Board of Pardons and Parole, na-deny na 'yan. Ngayon binabalik na naman? Parang humahanap ng butas para makalaya," Gordon said.
(It went through the Board of Pardons and Parole, [Sanchez's application] was denied. Now the issue is back again? It's like they're looking for a loophole so he could be released.)
Prisoners who received release orders through illegal means can be brought back to jail, Gordon said.
"Kung ang pagpapalaya sa kanila ay wala sa lugar at may halo nang graft and corruption, dapat magpaliwanag 'yung agency," he said.
(If their release is out of place and has signs of graft and corruption, the agency must explain.)
"If you were released under an illegal act, hindi puwede 'yun.
Babalik siya at babalik," he said.
(If you were released under an illegal act, that should not be so. They will have to be returned to jail.)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to "revamp" the entire BuCor over the questionable release of criminals who committed heinous crimes.