Panelo says no intervention in Sanchez's clemency plea despite referral letter

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2019 02:09 PM

MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisted Tuesday that he did not intervene in the plea for executive clemency of his former client, convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.

This after the Board of Pardons and Parole revealed that Panelo, who served as one of Sanchez’s defense counsels in the high-profile 1993 rape-slay case, referred the former mayor’s application for executive clemency in a letter dated Feb. 26.

Panelo referred a Feb. 8 letter written by Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie, regarding the pardon application of her father.

The BPP in December 2018 dismissed Sanchez’s petition for executive clemency. It upheld the dismissal of Sanchez’s appeal in a decision dated Feb. 27, a day after Panelo wrote the letter to BPP.

“There is no part of this representation’s official communication asking for intervention. The referral letter speaks for itself,” Panelo, also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, told reporters Tuesday.

“I never recommended anything,” he said. 

He explained he has not been personally in touch with the former mayor since his conviction in 1995, and that it is standard operating procedure of the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to respond to all letters and refer these to the appropriate department.

Panelo, however, confirmed meeting with the Sanchez family in Malacañang over the plea for pardon of the convicted mayor, but insisted that it was only an “official communication.” 

Duterte is aware of the said meeting, Panelo said, but noted that he did not discuss Sanchez’s application for executive clemency with the chief executive.

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to 7 terms of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years' imprisonment for each term) for the 1993 rape-slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez.

Duterte had rejected the possible release of Sanchez under a law that reduces an inmate's sentence due to good conduct.