MANILA - The referral letter of President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman for the executive clemency application of rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez may have "implied undue influence" to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP), Sen. Sonny Angara said Thursday.
"It’s a gray area what he did. But I think he just referred it, that’s what he was claiming. When I read the letter, it seemed to me like he was asking jail officials if this guy was already eligible for executive clemency, which is another thing from good conduct time allowance," Angara told ANC's Early Edition.
"I think definitely may official dun (who) would not take it at face value, baka (maybe) would look at it, as you mentioned, as some kind of coercion or implied undue influence."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said he did not intervene in the executive clemency plea of his former client Sanchez, who was convicted for the 1993 rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her companion Allan Gomez.
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.
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.
Panelo earlier said he was ready to face the Senate if called to a legislative inquiry.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, however said there was no need to summon Panelo.
“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.