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VP: Sanchez case shows death penalty shouldn’t be reinstated

08:09 PM August 25, 2019
Some senators express shock over Sanchez's impending release

Murder and rape convict Antonio Sanchez shows his prison cell in this February 1999 photo. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The possible early release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez is a proof that the proposal to reinstate the death penalty should not be approved, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday.

The problem lies not in the laws themselves but in their implementation, Robredo stressed. So it’s the justice system that should be addressed.

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Robredo made this point in a discussion with broadcaster Ely Saludar, her co-anchor in “BISErbisyong LENI,” he weekly radio program aired over AM station DZXL.

“What I can’t accept, Ka Ely, is that there are those saying that it’s time to approve the death penalty,” she said, speaking in Filipino. “And this [Sanchez case] is the proof that it should not be passed. Don’t pass it because only the well-to-do will benefit from it.”

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“The poor who have no means to get good lawyers will be at a disadvantage. What should be done is to fix our justice system,” she added.

The Vice President then cited several flaws in the justice system, including the lengthy resolution of cases and instances of corruption.

“I was a practicing lawyer, Ka Ely. There are judges who are really strict,” she said.

These judges, she said, would penalize lawyers who keep findings ways to postpone the progress of a case.

“But still, many [lawyers] manage to get around this, Ka Ely,” she added. “And I hope the practice of selling of a decision would stop. Now, there are many honest judges. There are many judges you can depend on. But the problem is really the whole system.”

So where would the solution to these problems begin?

From the appointments themselves, Robredo said.

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“I hope the appointments won’t be political,” she said.

She noted that those who have access to the appointing power would have a better chance of being appointed than those who have no access, although deserving.

Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan town in Laguna, was convicted of the rape-murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez — both students of the University of the Philipines Los Baños. He was also convicted of the murder of two other people.

In 1999, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the ruling of lower courts on the two cases, for which Sanchez got a total sentence of 360 years in prison.

Recently, reports came out that he was one of the more than 10,000 inmates who may benefit from Republic Act No. 10592, which increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

The GCTA provides additional time to be deducted from an inmate’s prison sentence as a reward for his or her good behavior.

READ: Antonio Sanchez, more than 10k other inmates to get out of prison ‘soon’

READ: EXPLAINER: Bilibid inmates foretasting freedom with new Good Conduct Time Allowance rule

Tokhang cases

In contrast with Sanchez, with his power and money, Robredo pointed out the thousands of mostly poor drug suspects had been killed without being given a chance to defend themselves in court.

“The problem is the rich, the powerful are the ones who find ways to get around the law,” she said.

“The rich, like Sanchez who seems to have been given a long sentence, would still find a way to gain freedom,” she said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato‘ dela Rosa, who spearheaded the drug war during his stint as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) had earlier said that, if it were up to him, Sanchez would have been long gone if the death penalty were in place.

“Did you know, I myself would have like to personally execute Sanchez?” Dela Rosa, speaking partly in Filipino, said. “I am for the death penalty. If the death penalty had been there, Sanchez would have been executed,

Dela Rosa made the statement last Thursday, Aug. 22, during a hearing on the proposed return of mandatory military training in schools.

At one point during the hearing, Dela Rosa flared up during an exchange with Raoul Manuel, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), a resource speaker who mentioned Dela Rosa’s earlier comment that Sanchez “deserves a second chance.”

“Now you don’ like the death penalty,” Dela Rosa said. “And yet now that he [Sanchez] may have a second chance because he was already reformed and according to the computation he’s already eligible for pardon, you don’t want that either. Where do you want us to go? What kind of thinking is that?”

READ: Dela Rosa loses cool after mention of his Sanchez remark during ROTC hearing

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TAGS: Antonio Sanchez, Bato dela Rosa, Death penalty, Justice System, Leni Robredo, Ronald dela Rosa
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