Parole official: Panelo wrote to pardons board on ex-client Sanchez's clemency plea

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2019 01:17 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2019 01:32 PM

Ex-lawmaker Imelda Marcos, ex-gov ER Ejercito vouched for Sanchez

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo served as rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez's defense counsel, as seen in this screengrab of a file video from trial. Screengrab

MANILA - The spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte wrote to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) seeking an update on the application for executive clemency of his former client, convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.

BPP executive director Reynaldo Bayang revealed in a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that Panelo, who served as Sanchez’s defense counsel in the high-profile 1993 rape-slay case, wrote the BPP regarding Sanchez's application for executive clemency in a letter dated Feb. 26.

Bayang said Panelo merely “referred” the BPP to a Feb. 8 letter written by Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie, regarding the executive clemency application of her father.

“In line with the President’s commitment for good governance, transparency and immediate action on matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises,” Panelo said in his letter.

“We request that your good office update us for record purposes and for whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with law and the policy of the President for good government.”

Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, has denied involvement in the decision to release Sanchez for supposed good conduct.

He has also adopted the position that Sanchez is not eligible for so-called good conduct time allowance (GCTA) because he was convicted of heinous crimes.

Reports that Sanchez may be released early had drawn uproar from the public and the families of his victims Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

The controversy has prompted a review of the implementation of the GCTA, a law that allows early release of convicts on account of good conduct.

In the hearing, Bayang also revealed that several politicians wrote to the BPP to vouch for Sanchez’s good behavior, among them former Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, former Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito, and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

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.

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 the death of companion Allan Gomez.

Republic Act 10592, enacted in 2013, recently came under scrutiny following reports that it could lead to Sanchez’s release.

The law, based on the interpretation of the Bureau of Corrections (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 such as Sanchez do not deserve reduced prison terms.

BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon has denied any irregularity in the granting of good conduct credits for Sanchez.