Sanchez camp has ‘no intention’ of paying damages? What happens next?
MANILA, Philippines — What would happen if the camp of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez insists on its refusal to indemnify the families of slain University of the Philippines Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez?
If appropriate legal actions are to be taken, human rights lawyer Edre Olalia said the court may order that Sanchez’ properties be levied upon and sold to satisfy the civil liability.
“They should ask the court to require the accused to pay the civil liability. If they cannot pay it, then his properties can be levied upon tapos ibebenta yan in a process by which the proceeds will be applied to the satisfaction of the civil liability,” Olalia said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net on Wednesday.
During Tuesday’s joint Senate hearing on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA), Sanchez’ wife, Elvira, revealed that their camp has “no intention” of paying the P12.67 million court-mandated damages imposed on her husband.
“Actually, your honor, we really have no intention [of paying],” Elvira said.
Aside from the seven reclusion perpetua sentences, each equivalent to 40 years in prison, the former mayor was ordered to pay the families of Sarmenta and Gomez a total of P12.67 million in moral damages.
Over 20 years had passed since the gruesome crime happened, yet the damages have not been settled.
Criminal vs civil liability
Olalia explained that in criminal cases, there are two types of liabilities — criminal and civil.
“In principle, dalawa kasi ang liabilities for a crime — criminal and civil liability. Ang criminal liability is when there is punishment either by imprisonment or by fine. In this case, imprisonment yung kanya (Sanchez),” Olalia said.
“’Yung civil liability, it pertains to the offended parties… Yung remedy na gina-grant sa offended party or their relatives, ang tawag kasi diyan ay private complainant, so yung family ni Gomez and Sarmenta, sila ang private complainant. Ang in a-award o gina-grant na legal remedy ay civil liability,” he added.
But even if Sanchez had settled his criminal liabilities, his civil liability remains if it is unsettled provided, however, that the legal deadline or prescriptive period subsists and the appropriate legal move is made.
“In principle, they are bound to satisfy those amounts. Even until now, supposed the criminal liability is satisfied. Ipagpalagay na nating natapos niya ang sentence niya o kaya ipagpalagay natin hypothetically napalaya siya, does the civil liability remain? Yes,” Olalia said.
“Hiwalay yun eh. Iba yung civil liability sa criminal liability. So even if he was released, in principle, you don’t get away with your obligation as to the civil liability,” the lawyer added.
Justice department’s possible move?
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who was the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary when Sanchez was convicted, is urging the DOJ to seek a writ of execution from the court in order to compel Sanchez to pay the damages.
“It is so unjust that here is Mayor Sanchez who is asking for clemency and who refuses to pay P12.6 million,” Drilon said at the same Senate hearing.
But while Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra agreed that his office could try providing assistance towards the offended parties, he noted that there is also a 10-year prescriptive period for the writ of execution to be sought.
Nonetheless, Drilon said Guevarra best leave the decision to the court.
“Why don’t you let the court decide on the prescriptive period, let the Sanchez family oppose a writ of execution, but at least to show to the people that we are consistent in our pursuit of justice. Initiate an application for writ of execution to the court and leave it to the court, to Sanchez, to the Supreme Court to decide as to whether is valid or not,” Drilon said.
“We can do so,” Guevarra responded. /muf
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