- A former mayor in the Philippines who was convicted for rape and murder will soon be walking free.
- The Department of Justice announced that a new law increasing good conduct time allowance (GCTA) and a Supreme Court (SC) decision will allow the release of Sanchez along with over 11,000 inmates.
- The public, including Sarmenta’s family, expressed outrage on the decision.
Former mayor Antonio Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna is about to walk free, years after he was convicted for the 1993 rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.
After the Department of Justice made the announcement on Tuesday, critics, including Sarmenta’s family had slammed this decision.
Quoting Sarmenta’s mother Ma.Clara, ABS-CBN News said the Justice Department did not notify them about the upcoming release of Sanchez.
“As far as we know, it was supposed to be channeled to the Board of Pardons and Parole if he has a petition, filed for parole so we should have been given a notice…that’s why we couldn’t take any course of action because we all haven’t received that there is a petition for that,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The mother added that she would definitely seek ways to block Sanchez’s release.
“I wasn’t able to sleep last night. Everything came back to me, the pain, the struggle, bringing back our lives together. It all came back. I’m really sorry that I’m crying,” she said during the interview.
According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a new law increasing good conduct time allowance (GCTA) and a Supreme Court (SC) decision will allow the release of Sanchez along with over 11,000 high-profile convicts and ordinary prisoners.
“[Sanchez’s] prison sentence is being recomputed by the New Bilibid Prison,” he said.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) added that inmates who were imprisoned from the 1990s would be included in the mass jail release.
Netizens took to social media their thoughts on the issue, majority of them decrying the Justice Department’s decision.
“Do you still trust the justice system in the Philippines?” said Twitter used @chacastano, as quoted by InterAksyon.
“How can the person change in BIlibid when he gets special treatment and was even caught using drugs,” said another user.
Apart from an air conditioning unit and a flat-screen television, one kilo of “shabu” or methamphetamine hydrochloride worth P1.5 million was seized from the cell of Sanchez in 2010, who reportedly hid it inside the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Meanwhile Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former Corrections chief, noted that Sanchez “deserved a second chance” as he was already a “changed man.”
Dela Rosa led the Philippine National Police (PNP) in stepping up its anti-drug operations which claimed thousands of lives without due process under the Duterte administration’s drug war.
Sanchez was sentenced up to 40 years in prison on March 11, 1995 for committing rape with homicide against Sarmenta, and for killing Gomez, her boyfriend.