The inquiry, scheduled for Sept. 3, was prompted by House Resolution 260, which committee vice chairman and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. filed as he wanted to find out – in aid of legislation – how prison authorities such as those in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) under the DOJ have been implementing the GCTA law.
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House panel to start probe of Antonio Sanchez GCTA case
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The justice committee of the House of Representatives is scheduled to conduct its probe on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, also known as Republic Act 10592, that could have freed rapist-killer and former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez.

“We will start first with our organizational meeting. Then it will be followed by a briefing by the Department of Justice (DOJ) led by Secretary Menardo Guevarra,” Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, chairman of the House committee on justice, said.

The inquiry, scheduled for Sept. 3, was prompted by House Resolution 260, which committee vice chairman and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. filed as he wanted to find out – in aid of legislation – how prison authorities such as those in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) under the DOJ have been implementing the GCTA law.

Veloso, a former Court of Appeals justice, hinted that they will “most likely raise the issue of the wasteful” Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which states that multiple penalties cannot be served simultaneously.

He went on to say that while DOJ officials will be there, he’ll ask questions “because I will also be filing a bill that will amend such article of the RPC,” referring to the provision that somehow limited the duration of a convicted felon’s sentence.

Garbin, also a lawyer by profession, noted that the GCTA law is a “good law as it seeks to promote rehabilitation in the country’s criminal justice system – one that seeks to help, rather than to punish. Moreover, it seeks to unclog overly-populated jails.”

He warned, however, that there is a need to determine whether the criterion used in implementing rules of the law is consistent with the very law it seeks to implement, while adding that “It should be determined whether (someone) should be accountable for recommending Sanchez’s release.”

House Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, for his part, said the fate of around 11,000 inmates at the New Bilibid Prison who are qualified for early conditional release by their remorse, rehabilitation and good conduct, should not be made to suffer only because of Sanchez.

“They have earned it,” he explained.

“Put approval on hold but processing should continue. This is a good law. Call Sanchez a monster, but the law, the GCTA, should not suffer. We can review the law, but I believe we should not repeal it,” Hataman added.

The 73-year-old Sanchez was convicted for the rape and homicide of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993. Mayor Sanchez was convicted and sentenced with seven counts of reclusion perpetua by a Pasig City court in year 1995.

‘No release order’

Guevarra has not received any information about the rumored release of Sanchez, and has been told that BuCor director general Nicanor Faeldon denies having signed a release order for the convicted rapist and killer.

“Likewise, no report on such matter has been received by the DOJ,” Guevarra said.

Sanchez’s family claimed that the former mayor was supposed to be among the inmates released from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) last Aug. 20.

However, on the day itself, they were reportedly informed at the NBP gate that Sanchez’s release would have to be reviewed.

Probe release order

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) yesterday said concerned government agencies as well as the Senate justice committee should probe the alleged release order for Sanchez.

“If such allegations are true, who processed the release order of Sanchez? Who approved the release order? Up until Aug. 21, BuCor and the Department of Justice officials seemed to confirm that Sanchez was eligible for release,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes.

He added, “It was only after intense public backlash and protests from the victims’ families that the eligibility of Sanchez was reconsidered. It was only on Aug. 23 when Malacañang became definite in its opposition to Sanchez’s release.”

Claims about the supposed release order may just be rumors, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said, as he maintained that he was not involved in the supposed attempt to release Sanchez.

Panelo, a former lawyer of Sanchez, stressed that the former Calauan, Laguna mayor is not qualified to be released early because he was charged with and convicted of a heinous crime. He also reiterated that he had nothing to do with a supposed effort to release Sanchez early.

Further adding to the controversy is the NBP and BuCor’s computation that Sanchez had already served his 49-year jail term.

The former mayor was convicted in 1995, and the Supreme Court ruled on Sanchez’s final conviction only 20 years ago, in 1999.– With Evelyn Macairan, Rhodina Villanueva, Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe

ANTONIO SANCHEZ DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE GOOD CONDUCT TIME ALLOWANCE
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