MANILA - The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) did not seek the approval of the Department of Justice on the impending release of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the release of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, such as convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, shall only be implemented with the prior approval of the justice secretary, according to the Department of Justice's department order 953 issued in November 2015.
When asked by Drilon if he received a request for Sanchez's release, Guevarra said: "No such request for approval was received by Department of Justice."
Guevarra, during the Senate Justice and Blue Ribbon committees' joint probe, also said since he assumed his position in April 2018, he did not receive any requests for the release of some of the 1,914 convicted heinous criminals freed since 2014.
The justice secretary said he only received "a few requests for approval" for the release of prisoners but not in connection with good conduct time allowance (GCTA), but with the special time allowance for loyalty (STAL).
The STAL, he said, is given to prisoners, who on the occasion of a catastrophe such as a fire or a typhoon, had opportunity to escape but did not take it.
BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon earlier announced Sanchez's release under the GCTA law, a penal act that allows long-time convicts to be released depending on their behavior in prison.
But Faeldon backtracked amid public uproar and said Sanchez was not eligible to be released based on several grounds, including finding 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.
During the Senate inquiry, Faeldon said the BuCor would provide Sanchez's carpeta or prison records and other documents to the Senate committees.