MANILA - The wife of convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez on Tuesday denied entering into any unscrupulous deal with Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon for the release of her husband.
Elvira Sanchez said she only met Faeldon on August 20 after receiving a text message from an anonymous person saying her husband would soon be released from prison due to good conduct.
Faeldon earlier admitted meeting with the Sanchez family, but he denied giving any assurance to them about the release of the former Laguna mayor convicted in a 1993 rape-slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the torture-killing of companion Allan Gomez.
Elvira said they were only able to meet Faeldon the following day. She said Faeldon estimated that Antonio might be released in two months if he is qualified to avail of the GCTA.
“It was August 21 when we went to his office to clarify the things we heard that my husband was about to be released,” Elvira said at the continuation of a Senate inquiry on the granting of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for convicts.
Pressed by Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the justice and Blue Ribbon committees, whether she and Faeldon had prior talks, Elvira said she only met the BuCor chief for the first time that day.
“Before that, wala kayong inaabot sa kanya? (did you give anything to him?)” Gordon asked Elvira.
"Never," Elvira replied.
Elvira added, Faeldon wanted to enforce a first in, first out rule in the release of the convicts who were granted good conduct credits. But she questioned this after hearing news that one of the convicts in the 1997 rape-slay of the Chiong sisters had been released.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier said corruption has reached the GCTA system after receiving reports that good conduct credits were being sold by unscrupulous BuCor officials.
Faeldon was criticized for signing orders for the release of Sanchez, 3 persons convicted in the Chiong sisters rape-slay case, and several drug convicts for supposed good conduct while in prison.
During the hearing, Minority Floor Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon quizzed Elvira about the sender of the text message informing her of her husband’s impending release.
Elvira then said she no longer has the messages because she destroyed her cellphone out of frustration and fear due to the death threats she received after Monday’s hearing.
“Kung nagsisinungaling kayo mahuhuli namin kayo, kaya magsabi kayo ng totoo,” Drilon told Elvira.
(If you are lying, we will eventually catch you, so tell the truth.)
Republic Act 10592, enacted in 2013, recently came under scrutiny following reports that it could lead to the release of Sanchez.
The law, based on the interpretation of the BuCor, allowed Sanchez to avail of GCTA and be released ahead of the end of his prison term.
But several senators believe heinous crime convicts and those who committed grave offenses while in prison do not deserve reduced prison terms.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said during Monday's hearing that since he was appointed to the DOJ in April 2018, he had not received any request for approval for the release of any convict on the basis of good conduct time allowance, despite a 2015 DOJ department order requiring the DOJ’s approval for release for those sentenced to life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua.
Guevarra said upon the DOJ’s review of the law, it concluded that the proper interpretation of that law would be to exclude the convicted of heinous crimes from getting GCTA.