WHAT WENT BEFORE: ‘A plot seemingly hatched in hell’
On March 14, 1995, after a 16-month trial, then Pasig Regional Trial Court Judge Harriet Demetriou found former Mayor Antonio Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna, and six of his henchmen guilty in the 1993 rape-slay of University of the Philippines student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her boyfriend Allan Gomez.
The court imposed the penalty of seven reclusion perpetua, each equivalent to 40 years in prison, on each of the seven men. It also ordered them to pay P11.3 million in damages to the families of Sarmenta and Gomez.
In what Demetriou called “a plot seemingly hatched in hell,” Sanchez ordered his aides to abduct Sarmenta, whom he raped while they beat up Gomez. He then handed over Sarmenta to his men, who shot Gomez dead before raping Sarmenta whom they later shot in the head with an Armalite rifle.
The hearings began on Sept. 29, 1993, and ended Jan. 31, 1995, with 40 persons testifying throughout the trial.
Sanchez took the witness stand for the first time on Jan. 25, 1995, denying any involvement in the killings while tagging Teofilo “Kit” Alqueza, son of retired Gen. Dictador Alqueza, as the mastermind.
After his testimony, Sanchez, summing up his feelings after more than a year in detention, said he felt sorry for himself and realized that anyone could be framed and land in jail without actually having committed a crime.
In media interviews, he said his faith in God and the Virgin Mary kept him strong and that he was praying the rosary every day to keep his sanity.
On the day he was found guilty, two contrasting personalities of Sanchez came out. Stunned by the decision, the prayerful accused transformed into a foulmouthed hysteric; the fixed smile often seen during the trial turned into a vicious snarl.
Sentenced with Sanchez were Baldwin Brion, Luis and Rogelio Corcolon, George Medialdea, Zoilo Ama and Pepito Kawit, based on the testimony of two other aides—Aurelio Centeno and Vivencio Malabanan—who turned state witness.
In January 1999, the Supreme Court affirmed the guilty verdict of the Pasig court. Six months later, it gave Sanchez two identical punishments for a separate crime.
In 2006, Sanchez was charged with possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found him to be allegedly keeping a packet of “shabu” (crystal meth) and marijuana, along with drug paraphernalia.
In April 2018, the Office of the Ombudsman completed the confiscation of ill-gotten wealth from Sanchez and his wife, Editha.
The Ombudsman announced that it had received on March 1, 2018, titles to 19 pieces of real estate property, all in Calauan. The lots are now registered in the name of the state.
The recovery marked the full enforcement of the Sandiganbayan’s decision on July 18, 2016, ordering the seizure of the Sanchezes’ assets — a house, two Mercedes-Benzes, a Dodge Caravan, shares in a lending company and cash in bank. —Inquirer Research
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