MANILA - For the mothers of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, the looming release of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez has opened up old wounds and brought back memories of suffering.
Twenty-six years after the brutal killing of the two students, their families have yet to receive any compensation from the camp of the former mayor and his cohorts even after the Supreme Court ordered them to pay some P10 million in damages.
"Kahit isang kusing wala (not a single cent)," Maria Clara Sarmenta told ANC's Early Edition.
"None at all," Iluminada Gomez said.
Sanchez masterminded the murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) students Eileen Sarmenta and her companion Allan Gomez - regarded by many as one of the most dramatic murder cases in the 1990s.
On June 28, 1993, Sanchez's 6 henchmen kidnapped Eileen and Allan and presented the girl to him as a "gift." The mayor raped Eileen, handed her over to the 6 to be raped again before she was shot in the face, according to court records.
Sarmenta said her husband had a hard time identifying Eileen and only recognized her by a mole on her face.
"Even the morgue had a hard time to fix the face of my daughter. They had to ask for a picture of her so they can reconstruct the face. But they said it didn’t do justice to my daughter," she said.
The two were graduating students of the Animal Science program of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. They were also part of sister fraternities: Eileen from Sigma Delta and Allan from Upsilon Sigma Phi, according to Sarmenta.
Eileen was targeted by Sanchez because she lived in a dormitory beside a chapel across where the former Calauan town mayor's son lived, her mother said.
"Common knowledge na ganun ang gawain niya. 'Yung anak niya naka-enroll sa rural high school sa UP, he's privy there kasi dropout 'yan sa high school doon eh," Iluminada added.
(It was common knowledge that he does these things. His son was enrolled at the rural high school in UP, he's privy there because he was a high school dropout there.)
The grieving mothers said Sanchez has never showed remorse for the crimes he committed.
"Imagine nakikita namin pagmumukha nila araw-araw, 5 beses sa isang linggo for 16 months. Alam mo tinitingnan nila kami as kami may kasalanan," Maria Clara said.
(Imagine we would see them every day, 5 times a week for 16 months. They look at us as if we were to be blamed.)
"He would even smile, parang kinukutya ba kami, tapos kaya 'yung nangyayari sa kaniya is because of us, parang kami 'yung criminal hindi siya," she added.
(He would even smile like he's mocking us, like what's happening to him was because of us. It was as if we were the criminals, not him.)
The victims' mothers said they do not believe Sanchez could change for the better.
"Me, I don’t think so because parang pagkatao na niya 'yun eh (because that's him as a person). May kasabihan tayo (We have a saying)...you cannot teach new tricks to an old dog," Maria Clara said.
"Wala tong pagbabago na (He cannot change). My regret is we have fought so hard for this case and then ganun lang ang kahihinatnan (it would lead to nothing)."
Sarmenta said she did not know the details of her daughter's killing before Sanchez's possible release was announced by government officials.
She said she avoided watching television and reading the news for a year after her daughter was raped and murdered in 1993.
"I just wanted to remember her as she was alive. Hindi ko talaga ginusto o pinilit na makita ko ang anak ko na patay (I never wanted to see my child dead)," she said. "I just want to remember her as a smiling face, yung happy jolly person."
Iluminada added, "We would want to remember them as alive and well."
Sanchez's looming release has sparked public outrage. The Bureau of Corrections on Thursday backtracked and said the former mayor's freedom was not guaranteed under a new law increasing the good conduct time allowance for inmates.
The mothers, meantime, thanked the public for supporting their fight against Sanchez's possible release.
"Alam namin mahal ninyo kami, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat," Maria Clara said.
(We know you love us, thank you to everyone.)