Early release for ex-mayor jailed for rape and murder dismissed by palace

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Former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez who was jailed in 1995 for the murder of two students and rape.

The Malacañang has said convicts jailed for “heinous” crimes, such as ex Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, are not eligible for early release.

Speaking at a press conference today (Friday, August 23), presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo clarified the law concerning the good conduct time allowance (GCTA). 

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“A review of Republic Act No. 10592 or the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance, which amends the Revised Penal Code on the computation of the duration of imprisonment based on an offender’s good conduct, reveals that it is categorical in excluding recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage. This is the letter and the spirit of the law,” he said.

“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.”

Coincidentally, as a lawyer, Panelo once represented Sanchez, who was handed a life sentence for rape and murder.

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Asked again whether President Duterte would allow Sanchez to be released from jail on the account of good behaviour, Panelo said: “Mr Sanchez, under Republic Act 10592, is not eligible. So the president, as the chief enforcer of the law will have to follow the law.”

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon said the agency had not yet reviewed Sanchez’s records but doubted he could be released soon due to “not good behaviours”. 

For example, while detained at New Bilibid Prison in 2010, Sanchez was caught with shabu worth 1.5 million pesos, hidden in a statue of the Virgin Mary.

It was previously reported that Sanchez is one of the thousands of inmates eligible for early release under the GCTA.

BuCor personnel are looking into the early release of some 11,000 inmates in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling that declared the law on GCTAs should be applied retroactively in all cases, even those from before the enactment of the measure in 2013.

Sanchez became notorious in the Philippines with the 1993 killing of two university students: Eileen Sarmenta and her boyfriend, Allan Gomez. The couple were abducted by Sanchez’s men in Los Baños with the intent of presenting Eileen as a “gift” to the mayor. They were then taken to Sanchez’s home, where Gomez was tortured.

Before ordering his aides to kill the victims, Sanchez raped Eileen, then presented her to his henchmen, who also abused the teenager.

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 to seven life sentences but he benefitted from the Revised Penal Code’s rule that limited the sentence to a maximum of 40 years. 

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