Senate won't summon Panelo over referral letter for Sanchez clemency - Gordon

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2019 06:46 PM

MANILA - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will not summon Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo to a hearing to explain why he issued a referral letter forwarding to the pardons bureau the clemency plea of rape-slay convict former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, the panel chair said Wednesday. 

Panelo, in a letter dated Feb. 26, 2019, forwarded to the Board of Pardons and Parole the Sanchez family’s plea for executive clemency. The request was denied. 

“Personally I don’t feel the need to [summon Panelo] because it is very clear to me that he could not say no,” Gordon told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Makati.

Panelo was among Sanchez's defense lawyers during his trial for the rape-slay of college student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez. 

“Malinaw na malinaw, hindi siya nag-recommend. Sinabi niya may sulat ako dito, binabato ko sa inyo. Pero malinaw, walang damage,” he said. 

(It's very clear, he did not recommend. He said I have a letter here, I am forwarding to you. But it's clear, no damage.)

“I would not tax him for that unless I am overruled by the members.”

Panelo did “no attempt to influence the Board of Pardons and Parole” but exercised “poor judgement” in issuing a referral letter for Sanchez who was his former client, Gordon said.

“Dapat 'pag ikaw ay nasa posisyon, mag-iingat ka. He must be more circumspect,” he said.

(If you are in position, you should be careful. He must be more circumspect.)

“Let it be a lesson to all who might do that in the future na 'yung mga ganun ay baka maka-damage sa kanila (that doing something like that might cause them damage),” he said.

Panelo earlier drew flak for allegedly lobbying for Sanchez’s release. He denied these accusations.

Sanchez was convicted for the rape and killing of Eileen Sarmenta and slay of her companion Allan Gomez. Other than his clemency plea, Sanchez was earlier reported to be among possible beneficiaries of early release over good conduct. 

Under the law, a convict’s prison sentence may be reduced if he or she exhibited good conduct while in prison. The policy does not cover those who committed heinous crimes like rape.