Panelo did not 'appear' to endorse Sanchez release: anti-corruption official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2019 08:56 AM | Updated as of Sep 04 2019 09:11 AM

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MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo did not "appear" to have endorsed the request of a rape and murder convict for early release, a member of the Palace's anti-corruption arm said Wednesday.

There is "no basis yet" to investigate Panelo over the attempt to his former client, Antonio Sanchez, to be freed early on good conduct, said Commissioner Manuelito Luna of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

Instead, it could be folded into a broader investigation on Bureau of Corrections Director General Nicanor Faeldon, Luna told ANC's Early Edition.

Panelo referred the letter of the former Calauan town mayor's son dated Feb. 26 to the Board of Pardons and Parole. He was among the defense counsels for Sanchez, who was convicted for the murders of UP Los Banos students Allan Gomez and Eileen Sarmenta, whom he also raped.

"Judging from the tenor, it does not appear Mr. Panelo has endorsed to the BPP the request of Mr. Sanchez," Luna said, referring to Panelo's letter.

Panelo "did the right thing" by referring the letter without acting on it, Luna said. The letter "appears to be a uniform answer to a request by the public," he said.

"There’s nothing wrong for Secretary Panelo to refer it because we do that from time to time, especially if we don’t want to entertain a matter or it is not within our jurisdiction or that there would be delicadeza issue as in this case," he said.

Panelo, who also serves as chief presidential legal counsel, said it was a standard operating procedure of his office to respond to all letters and refer these to the appropriate department.

He also confirmed meeting with the Sanchez family in Malacañang over the plea for pardon of the convicted mayor, which he insisted was only an “official communication.” 

He said he was ready to face the Senate if he will be called by the legislative body.

He earlier said he has not been personally in touch with the former mayor since his conviction in 1995.