Panelo: I have no reason to fear or fret
MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Wednesday he would push through with his libel complaints against news websites Inquirer.net and Rappler unless they issue a public apology.
Panelo is contesting the reports of the 2 news outfits on his referral of a letter on convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez’s family's plea for clemency for the former mayor. He earlier claimed the reports to be “reeking not only with irresponsibility but with malice.”
He cited an Inquirer.net breaking news tweet that used the word “recommending,” and a Rappler article which used the word “endorsed” in its headline in reference to his action on the Sanchez family's letter.
“It is for this reason that I will be filing libel cases against the reporters of Inquirer.net and Rappler, Inc. should they fail to comply with my demand for a public apology and rectification,” he said in a statement.
“It is clear that they have publicly and maliciously imputed to me an act, if not a crime, a vice or defect, which caused the dishonor, discredit or contempt of my person,” he said.
Rappler has criticized Panelo’s libel threat as “a pure diversionary tactic" while Inquirer.net simply said the Duterte spokesman is free to file a complaint.
Panelo was one of Sanchez’s defense counsels in the high-profile 1993 rape-slay case, which ended in a 1995 conviction for the former mayor.
Sanchez was sentenced to 7 terms of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years' imprisonment for each term) for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez.
He made the news again after reports he might benefit from good conduct time allowance, which allows the early release of convicts on account of good behavior in prison. His release was halted amid uproar from the victims' family, the public and several government officials.
Panelo also claimed Wednesday that he has always been upfront with Sanchez's case.
“I have been upfront to our people ever since the Sanchez case has been in the news. I have no reason to fear or fret. Truth is my compass and I know that it will serve me well,” Panelo said in a statement.
“I did not endorse – neither did I recommend – the granting of an executive clemency in favor of Mr. Sanchez,” he said.
Panelo only admitted to meeting the Sanchez family in Malacañang after the Board of Pardons and Parole revealed in a Senate inquiry his referral of the Sanchez family’s letter on the former mayor’s plea for executive clemency.
In previous interviews, Panelo claimed that he has not been personally in touch with the former mayor since his conviction 24 years ago.