VP spokesman: Having shabu in prison is good behavior?
MANILA, Philippines — Since when has committing a crime in prison ever been considered as good behavior?
Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo, posed this question Saturday on the possibility of that Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, walking out of the New Bilibid Prison, where he is serving a prison term of 360 years for rape and several murders.
“Paanong nag-qualify si dating Mayor Sanchez doon gayong mayroong mga reports na napakaklaro na siya ay nahulihan ng shabu habang siya ay nakakulong — dalawang beses pa?” Gutierrez said in an interview over AM radio station DZRH.
[How did former Mayor Sanchez qualify (for a shortened term) when there are clear reports that he was caught in possession of shabu — and he was caught twice?]
“Mayroon siyang paglabag doon sa mga patakaran mismo ng Bilibid noong nahulihan na mayroon siyang air con at mayroon siyang flat-screen TV sa loob ng kaniyang selda,” he added.
[He also violated rules of the Bilibid when he was caught having an air con and a flat-screen TV in his cell.]
“So ang malaking tanong dito: Papaanong mako-consider na ang isang tao na may mga ganitong klaseng malalang violation? Alalahanin natin ang possession ng illegal drugs, krimen iyan. Hindi lang iyan basta paglabag sa prison rules. Papaano na-consider na iyon ay good behavior? Iyon na siguro ang dapat na tanong na ibato sa ating mga awtoridad,” Gutierrez went on.
[So the big question here is: How can a person with such grave violations be considered for early release? Remember, possession of illegal drugs is a crime. That’s not just a violation of prison rules. How can that be considered good behavior. Maybe that’s what we should ask the authorities.]
The spokesperson was referring to Sanchez’s reported crimes during his stay inside the New Bilibid Prison.
In 2006, Sanchez was found in possession of a packet of crystal meth, locally known as shabu, and a bag of marijuana leaves in his cell.
In 2010, prison guards found P1.5 million worth of shabu stashed in one of his Virgin Mary statues.
In 2015, he was also found to be keeping prohibitied household appliances in his prison cell.
The ex-mayor, along with six others, was sentenced to seven counts of reclusion perpetua (each count being a 40-year prison sentence) for the gang-rape and murder of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her college friend, Allan Gomez in 1993.
According to reports, Sanchez may be one of the more than 10,000 inmates that will released under Republic Act No. 10592, or the law crediting good conduct time allowances (GCTA) to them for an early release.
According to Gutierrez, Robredo was relieved, however, on hearing that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Sanchez might not be allowed to walk free after all.
“Tingin niya, itong desisyon na ito [ng Bucor at DOJ] ay lumabas lamang dahil din sa paglabas ng galit sa pagbabantay ng ating mga kababayan na kaagad nagpahayag ng kanilang pagtutol dito nga sa naging resulta ng kaso ni [dating] Mayor Sanchez,” he said.
[She thinks that the decision came out because our vigilant countrymen immediately expressed anger and opposed what has become of the case of former Mayor Sanchez.]
Robredo earlier said that the early release of Sanchez from the national penitentiary would spark a public backlash.
“Kaya natutuwa tayo na iyong taumbayan talagang pinarating iyong kanilang boses. Kasi paano na lang kung hindi tayo nag-react? Baka nalaman na lang natin nakalabas na siya,” Robredo told reporters while on a visit in Eastern Samar, where she led the turnover rites of a girls’ dormitory at the Matarinao School of Fisheries in the town of Salcedo.
[So we’re happy that the people really made their voices heard. What would happen if we did not react? Maybe before we know he would have been released.]
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