MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—Convicted rapist and murderer ex-Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez will likely walk free in 2 months, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon confirmed Tuesday.
"Maaaring makakasama siya (Sanchez) sa more or less 11,000 na mga person deprived of liberty (PDL) na makakalabas in the next 2 months," Faeldon told radio DZMM in an interview.
(He may be released along with more or less 11,000 person deprived of liberty within the next two months.)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sanchez might be released because of a new law increasing good conduct time allowance and a Supreme Court (SC) decision applying this law retroactively.
Guevarra said BuCor is recomputing the good conduct time allowances of Sanchez, who was sentenced in 1995 to 7 counts of reclusion perpetua (or 40 years imprisonment) over the murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez in June 1993. Sarmenta was also found raped.
The justice chief said Sanchez is “very likely for release” soon, about 25 years after he was arrested for the gruesome crimes.
“We don't know how soon ‘yung kay Mayor Sanchez mapo-process pero ginagawa na 'yan sa ngayon,” he told reporters in a phone interview.
(We don’t know how soon Mayor Sanchez’s release will be processed but it’s now being done.)
Although sentenced to 7 counts of reclusion perpetua, Sanchez stands to benefit from the 3-fold rule under the Revised Penal Code, which limits the service of sentence to a maximum of 3 times the harshest penalty but in no case more than 40 years.
The Revised Penal Code also allows the application of good conduct time allowances, which reduces the years and days spent in prison.
The periods for good conduct time allowance were increased in a 2013 law, Republic Act 10592, which expanded the application of good conduct time allowance for prisoners even during preventive imprisonment and increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct.
The law also allowed additional deduction of 15 days for each month of study, teaching or mentoring service while it expanded the special time allowance for loyalty and applied it to preventive imprisonment.
In June this year, the Supreme Court, in a decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, unanimously voted to allow retroactive application of the law as it benefits detention and convicted prisoners.
Guevarra said application of the law will not only benefit Sanchez, but thousands of other PDL.
“’Di lang naman siya involved diyan kundi thousands under detention, persons deprived of liberty so libo-libo ‘yan. So marami ang kino-compute ang good conduct time allowances,” he said.
(It’s not just him but thousands under detention, persons deprived of liberty, that’s in the thousands. So we’re computing many good conduct time allowances.)
He estimated the number of prisoners and inmates who could be released could number in the thousands in the next 2 months and will apply to both high-profile and low-profile cases.
Guevarra said he does not expect any backlash from the public for the early release of prisoners and inmates like Sanchez.
“Wala naman akong nakikitang public backlash dahil batas na ‘yan, Kongreso na ang naglabas niyan, at ‘yan naman ay inapprove ng Presidente. Maganda naman ang purpose n’yan dahil kung gusto mong makalaya, halimbawa isa kang convicted person gusto mong makalaya nang maaga, e di you behave, magpakita ka ng good conduct while you are in detention para mas maaga kang makalaya,” he said.
(I don’t see any public backlash because it’s a law – Congress passed it and the President approved it. The purpose is also good because a convicted person, for example, who wants to leave prison soon will behave and show good conduct while under detention.)
“Magbe-benefit din ang penitentiaries natin dahil magkakaroon ng decongestion dahil 'yung mga puwede nang lumaya because of good conduct, makakalaya na kaagad so makakatulong din 'yun sa decongestion ng ating prisons at penitentiaries,” he added.
(It will also benefit the penitentiaries because there will be decongestion. Those who can go because of good conduct can be freed soon so it will help in the decongestion of prisons and penitentiaries.)
Under Republic Act 10592, "offenders or accused who have undergone preventive imprisonment shall be credited in the service of their sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty, with the full time during which they have undergone preventive imprisonment."
Sanchez was convicted on March 11, 1995 by Judge Harriet Demetriou, who said that the rape and murder of Sarmenta and Gomez was “a plot seemingly hatched in hell.”
Faeldon said inmates who were imprisoned from the 1990s will be included in the mass jail release.
"Kung sino 'yung unang pumasok, sila 'yung unang (lalabas)," Faeldon said.
(Whoever were the first ones imprisoned, will be the first ones to leave.)
The release of PDLs, Faeldon said, will help decongest the overcrowding of jails in the country.
"Right now kasi meron tayong 300 plus percent na congestion. So mare-reduce natin 'yan," he said.—With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News