Did money talk? Rape-slay victim’s mom asks amid looming release of convicted ex-mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Did money talk?
This was the question lingering in the mind of the mother of the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) student, who was raped and killed in 1993 amid the possible early release of convicted former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.
“Paano naman po nila sinasabi na well-behaved siya doon. Doon nga po kami nagtataka kaya bilang isang ina, bilang isang mamamayan na nag-iisip ng tama, ang sinasabi po namin, did money talk there?” (How can they say that he exhibited good behavior in prison? We are perplexed, as a mother and a citizen, we want to know if money talked in this case),” said Ma. Clara Sarmenta, mother of slain UPLB student Eileen Sarmenta, in an interview on DZMM.
“We’re not accusing anybody, pero hindi naman po ninyo maaalis yung ganung pag-iisip namin kasi marami naman po kaming nakikitang ganoong nangyayari sa ating pamahalaan (We cannot be blamed for thinking that way because we’ve seen it happen before),” she added.
Sanchez is one of the more than 10,000 inmates that may benefit from Republic Act No. 10592, which increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) accorded to inmates.
The slain coed’s mother questioned the basis of Sanchez’ release following reports that the former mayor committed several violations while serving his sentence—including being caught keeping a packet of illegal drugs.
Sarmenta added that said Sanchez “lived like a king” while serving time.
“Yun nga po ang aming pinagtataka. Paano naging well-behaved si Sanchez doon samantalang ang dami po niyang mga violation sa rules ng bilibid prison. He lived like a king there. Mayroon siyang sariling kwarto, mayroon siyang telepono, mayroon siyang aircon, mayroon po siyang TV, at tsaka nahulihan po siya ng drugs doon,” she said.
(How is it that he supposedly had good behavior while in jail when he lived like a king, had his own room, telephone, air-conditioning unit, TV set and was even caught with illegal drugs).
Sarmenta appealed to the government to be fair and lamented the “seemingly unfair” justice system in the country.
“Paano naman kami kamukha ng mga biktima, wala naman kaming sasandalan kundi ang ating batas pero parang unfair yung justice system natin e,” Sarmenta said.
“Ibig noon sabihin sa batas na yun, yung mga heinous crime at ordinary crime pare-pareho na lang? Paano naman yung reclusion perpetua na sinasabing life sentence? Parang hindi tama ang ating batas. Parang mayroong loophole doon (Does it mean that heinous crimes and ordinary crimes are similar? The law appears to have loopholes),” she added.
On March 11, 1995, Sanchez and six of his bodyguards were found guilty of seven counts of homicide in the death of Sarmenta and her companion, Allan Gomez and Sarmenta’s rape in 1993. /gsg