Impending release of convicted rapist-murderer Sanchez sparks outrage

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2019 06:21 PM

MANILA—A former Laguna town mayor convicted of the gruesome rape and murder of a young university student in 1993 is set to be released for supposed “good conduct,” igniting widespread condemnation.

Details of the horrific crime re-emerged online soon after the justice department confirmed that former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez was eligible for release and might walk free soon, despite being sentenced to 7 life terms. 

Questions were raised over how he could qualify for good conduct when he was caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu hidden in a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his cell at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City in 2010.

An airconditioning unit and a flat-screen TV were also seized from him during a raid in 2015.

“Good behavior daw?” former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo posted on Facebook.

“Another travesty of justice is ongoing under this administration.”

HATCHED IN HELL

It took the court 16 months of trial before convicting Sanchez and his 6 bodyguards for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta. 

They also tortured and killed her companion, Allan Gomez. Both of them were students of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños. 

The Supreme Court later upheld the ruling of judge Harriet Demetriou, who described the crime as a “plot seemingly hatched in hell.”

To those familiar with the case, one of the most controversial in the '90s, the crime was just too appalling.

Sarmenta and Gomez were kidnapped on the night of June 28, 1993 on their way home from school in Los Baños.

 GIFT FOR MAYOR

Sanchez’s security men specifically searched for Sarmenta and delivered her as a “gift” at the former mayor’s farm in Laguna. 

“Mayor, this is our gift to you, the girl you’ve been longing for,” Sanchez was told, according to court documents.

“She’s really beautiful,” he replied then proceeded to rape the hapless woman.

By 1 a.m. the following day, 2 of his men dragged the victim out of the room, her “hands still tied and stripped of her shorts.”

“I am through with her. She’s all yours,” said Sanchez, who was wearing only a white polo shirt.

‘INSENSITIVE BRUTES’

The group then drove Sarmenta to a sugarcane field where they gang-raped her. 

“Eileen pleaded, in between sobs and whimpers, for the torture to stop,” the court ruling said, but she was ignored by the “insensitive brutes.”

One of them finished her off with a bullet in the head.

Gomez was killed earlier following hours of torture.

“Very painful to read. Sanchez was supposed to stay in jail for the rest of his life,” law professor Tony La Viña posted on Facebook, referring to a blog entry about the Sarmenta-Gomez ordeal.