Karapatan: Sanchez’s looming release mocks justice, insult to victims’ families
MANILA, Philippines – The impending release from prison of former Caluan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is an insult to one of the Philippine justice system’s major victories and to the families of his victims, rights advocate group Karapatan said on Thursday.
According to Karaptan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, these developments also show that powerful people can still influence the justice system even after their conviction.
“Truly, justice only works for those favored by the powerful. The judge who handled this case more than 20 years ago aptly likened the incident to a plan ‘hatched in hell,’” Palabay said in a statement.
“His release, despite such a brutal, merciless crime mocks justice, and it is an affront to the lives of his victims. We must never allow Sanchez’s crimes to be forgotten, whitewashed, or reduced; we must never allow his band of demonic ilk to absolve him from where he and his kind belongs — locked up in jail,” she added.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape of Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of Sarmenta’s friend Allan Gomez in 1993, will be one of the over 10,000 convicted inmates to be released from jail.
This was due to Sanchez’s reported compliance with Republic Act 10592, which increased the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) given to inmates. This law provides an additional time to be decreased from prisoners as a result of their good behavior.
However, several government officials, personalities, and netizens have decried the decision, citing the brutality and sheer impact of the crime that Sanchez and his personnel did.
Karapatan’s deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor also cited the looming release of Sanchez in contrast with the government’s decision to keep political prisoners locked up. He also said Sanchez’s track record inside the New Bilibid Prison is questionable.
“It’s a shame that the DOJ is quite excited to announce the possibility of Sanchez’s freedom, yet the judiciary systematically veers its sight away from the cases of hundreds of political detainees in the country, many of which are sickly and elderly,” Clamor said.
“Come to think of it, these political prisoners are jailed because of trumped-up charges — some for decades already — yet a convicted murderer and rapist will be set free on the guise of good behavior. This is despite Sanchez’s involvement in drug use and trade while inside prison, both of which are reported by the Bureau of Corrections,” he added. /jpv
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