Angara questions criteria used in recommendation to free Sanchez
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sonny Angara has questioned the “yardstick” used to recommend the release of former Mayor Antonio Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna, asking whether other factors should have been considered.
In a statement sent to reporters on Thursday, Angara asked if Sanchez’s actions in prison — where he was caught in possession of various contrabands like flat-screen televisions, air-conditioning units — was also included in the computation.
Sanchez, convicted for raping Eileen Sarmenta and killing Allan Gomez in 1993, were reported to be one of many inmates to be released soon for good behavior, in accordance to Republic Act 10592, which increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.
“The reduction of prison sentences is not a mathematical formula that can be computed separate and isolated from other factors that must be considered,” the senator said.
“If the person had committed a crime while in prison, like stashing shabu inside the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, does this not affect his chances of clemency or even forfeits it?” he asked. “In his ledger of sins, does the commission of a new crime cancel whatever penalty was extinguished by previous good conduct?”
Aside from that, Angara also asked whether the family of the victims should have been consulted before Sanchez, or any inmate for that matter, would be released.
“Lastly, in the grant of clemency, should the friends and family of the victims be mandatorily consulted, and in fact, as the ones directly suffering from the loss, be the first to be solicited of their views, and should the latter be given much weight?” Angara noted.
“Does the new law cited by the DOJ exempt ‘recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes’ from its coverage or does it take the likes of Sanchez from its purview?” he added.
Sanchez, who raped Sarmenta before handing her over to his men — who also raped the victim and killed her afterwards — supposedly turned a new leaf decades after he was jailed.
Even Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who said that the former mayor also deserves another chance, said that there were no previous reports of Sanchez misdoings when the senator was still Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief.
However, just recently, incumbent BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon clarified that Sanchez may not be allowed to leave the New Bilibid Prison because of his prior behavior — including what Angara mentioned above.
Still, Angara said that if Sanchez will indeed benefit from R.A. 10592, there should be a need to review the law or even amend, to ensure that the victims of criminals would not suffer injustice.
“Assuming he is entitled to these good conduct allowances, we need to amend other portions of the law like section 3 to state that recidivists or repeat offenders should not be entitled to good conduct allowances,” Angara stressed.
“It is a big blow to the justice system if he is allowed to be released after committing such heinous crimes. The law should apply to all but it must also be seen to be able to do justice to the victims,” he explained. /jpv
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