MANILA - The Department of Justice is seeking information on how many prisoners, if any, were freed due to good conduct, a benefit that might be granted to convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.
"Hinihingi din natin iyan sa Bureau of Corrections. Once we do get a confirmation na iyung tiyak na number and who these are, we'll be able to sort through and possibly share if it's of public interest," said Justice Undersecretary and Spokesperson Markk Perete.
(We are getting that from the Bureau of Corrections. Once we do get a confirmation on the exact number and who these are, we'll be able to sort through and possibly share if it's of public interest.)
Sanchez, who was behind the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and her companion Allan Gomez, might be released because of Republic Act 10592, which expanded the application of good conduct time allowance for convicts even during preventive imprisonment and increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct, Justice Menardo Guevarra said last week.
Sanchez's 6 co-accused in the crime are still in prison, said Perete, quoting "the last report we got."
A proposed Senate inquiry into the issue should clarify whether or not RA 10592 can be applied retroactively to cases before its signing in 2013, he said.
Lawmakers, he added, should determine whether or not those convicted of heinous crimes are excluded from early prison release and how the justice department can gain oversight over the process.
If the justice department changes its interpretation of the law and says that Sanchez is not eligible, he can elevate the issue to the Supreme Court, said Sen. Franklin Drilon.
"Hindi mo mapigil si Sanchez na tumakbo sa SC at sabihin na hindi sang-ayon sa batas o ang tinatawag nating abuse of discretion o may pagkakamali sa pag-implement ng batas, kaya ang husgado ang dapat na magdesisyon kung talagang kasama siya o hindi," he said.
(You cannot stop Sanchez from running to the SC and saying that there is abuse of discretion or an error in the implementation of the law, so the court should be the one to decide whether or not he is eligible.)
Drilon earlier said Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, is unqualified for good conduct credits after he smuggled "shabu" inside a Virgin Mary statue while serving time for the murders of Gomez and Sarmenta, both students of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.