More than two decades after a Pasig City judge sentenced him to seven life terms, the former Calauan, Laguna mayor maintained he had nothing to do with their death.
Sanchez's case, GCTA implementation under review
Rosette Adel ( - August 26, 2019 - 12:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher Go on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte has given orders not to release rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez after reports last week that he might be set free after serving a little more than half of his sentence.

“Pinaabot niya kay BuCor Faeldon (Bureau of Corrections Director General Nicanor Faeldon) at kay Secretary Guevarra (Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra) para iparating sa kanila na hindi maaring ma-release ‘yan dahil pinag-aaralan ni Pangulong Duterte kasi ang batas at nakalagay doon sa Republic Act 10592 na excluded po ang heinous crime,” Go told the reporters.

(President Duterte let BuCor Director General Faeldon and Justice Secretary Guevarra know that Sanchez cannot be released because it was stated in Republic Act 10592 that those convicted of heinous crime are excluded)

RA 10592 expands the time deducted from prisoners' sentences as a reward for good behavior. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the law also applies to those sentenced before the law was passed in 2013.

Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was convicted in 1995 for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her boyfriend Allan Gomez in 1993. He was sentenced to seven life terms or up to 40 years in prison for that.

Guevarra said last week that Sanchez could be released early due to RA 10592.

This pronouncement was met with criticism from the public and from government officials, some of whom said Sanchez's potential release is an argument for a return of the death penalty.

Faeldon, at a press briefing, said that Sanchez's release is actually unlikely because of violations while already at the New Bilibid Prison.

Presidential spokesman and chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, who served as the defense counsel of Sanchez for his case, echoed Go’s statement and said that the president knows the law that’s why he disallowed the release of Sanchez.

Last week, Panelo also said Duterte would not allow Sanchez's release.

The spokesperson stressed that the law is very clear and already gave four categories for it.

“With respect to the processing it’s very clear that under Republic Act 10592, lahat ng mga (all the) recidivist, habitual delinquent at saka (and) charged with heinous crimes are ineligible under that coverage,” Salvador said in a separate interview with CNN Philippines.

'No order, but a request to hold case'

Guevarra, in a separate radio interview, said the Palace has asked for a review of the Sanchez case.

“Wala akong natanggap na ganoong diretsong utos mula sa Presidente. Pero may request ang Malacañang na i-hold ang processing noong particular case ni Mayor Sanchez hanggang sa mapag-aralan nang mabuti 'yang factual at legal issues involved,” the justice secretary said over dzBB.

(I did not receive a direct order from the president. But there is a request from Malacañang to hold the processing of the case of Mayor Sanchez until we thoroughly study the factual and legal issues involved)

Guevarra said the processing of the Good Conduct Time Allowance is temporarily suspended as it would undergo review.

The DOJ chief said he is considering creating a task force to review the GCTA guidelines. He said he would coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government, which handles the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to help in the review.

“Tatargetin namin matapos ang review na ito at sa awa ng Diyos matapos sa loob ng 10 araw,” he said.

(We are targeting to finish this review, God willing, within ten days).

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