Retired judge Harriet Demetriou said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Bureau of Corrections Director Nicanor Faeldon intentionally skewed the interpretation of Republic Act 10592 to allow convicted rapist Antonio Sanchez’s early freedom.
Judge Demetriou was responsible for convicting ex-Calauan mayor Sanchez to seven life terms in 1995 after being found guilty of the rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and murder of Allan Gomez. She said that Panelo, Director Faeldon, together with a number of other government officials, “twisted” the lower jail time for good behavior law to favor Sanchez’s early release. The Supreme Court affirmed this ruling.
“Tini-twist nila na good conduct time allowance (GCTA) kasi matagal na daw si Sanchez doon, na 25 years. Eh mabulok man siya doon, hindi siya qualified under the law unless the law is amended,” she said.
(They twisted [the law] to good conduct time allowance (GCTA) because Sanchez has spent too long [in prison], it’s been 25 years. But even if he rots there, he is not qualified under the law unless the law is amended.)
Judge Demetriou was the one found then-Calauan Mayor Sanchez and six of his henchmen guilty of seven counts of rape with homicide for the rape-slay of 21-year-old Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of 19-year-old Allan Gomez, both of which are students of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños.
She added that Director Faeldon allowed the GCTA application on Sanchez when he is clearly not qualified because the law excludes heinous crime convicts from shorter jail time privilege.
“Faeldon is also making a mockery of the RA 10592 na nagsasabi sa kanya, mga prison officials na huwag niyong palayain si Sanchez kasi guilty ‘yan ng committing ng heinous crime… Klarong klaro ang batas. Bakit hindi nila yan masunod?” (Faeldon is also making a mockery of the RA 10592, which states that Sanchez cannot be released early because he was found guilty of committing a heinous crime. The law is very clear. How come they cannot follow it? How come they are trying to pass it off under the GCTA even if he is not qualified?) she said, adding that it is impossible that Panelo didn’t maneuver the decision to favor his former client given his position in the Duterte administration.
Panelo represented then-mayor Sanchez in this case in 1993.
Judge Demetriou said it’s possible Panelo had a hand in Sanchez’s early release. “The first thing he should have advised the President: ‘Mr. President, he is not qualified under the law, he cannot be given good conduct time allowance because he is found guilty of heinous crimes, seven counts of rape and homicide.’ Dapat alam niya (He should have known), he was one of the defense counsels ni Sanchez,” she said, and added, “So he actually fooled the people. He actually fooled the president.”
The last thing the retired judge had to say to the spokesperson is: “Mag-resign ka na lang, Panelo.” (Just resign, Panelo).
Meanwhile, news traveled to Panelo, and he has responded early this evening, to the judge’s statements.
“It is unfortunate that former Judge Demetriou has expressed an opinion on the basis of speculation,” Panelo said in a text message.
“When the President asked for my opinion as whether or not Sanchez was covered by the benefit granted to inmates under R.A. 10592, I categorically stated that by express provision of the law, Sanchez and those similarly situated, meaning inmate charged and convicted of heinous crimes as well as those recidivists, habitual delinquents, and escapists, are excluded from the coverage of the law,” he added. “I thereafter issued an official statement on the matter expressing such a view. Dura lex sed lex.”
However, he earlier confessed that he was not familiar with the law, and the Malacañang would not be able to oppose it if Sanchez would be released in the law’s terms. And when he was asked to comment on calls for his resignation, “That goes without saying,” is all he said, and insists that his office had nothing to do with the release of qualified inmates.[Inquirer.net]
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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