Panelo to Hontiveros: Need help? I can refer you, too
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday that he will help even opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros if she comes to his office in Malacañang asking for assistance.
Panelo made the statement after Hontiveros said Panelo should be investigated for acting in a “preferential way” when he referred the application for executive clemency of his former client, rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP).
Hontiveros even asked Panelo if he is also as accommodating to the family of poor convicts.
“Oo. Pati sa kaniya magiging accommodating ako kapag may problema siya. If she comes to my office, I will accommodate her,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Her mother is very good friend of mine, as well as her sister. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re friends or not, if she has a problem, she can come to my office and I will refer to the appropriate entity that requires action or whatever complaint she will bring to this office,” he added.
Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, served as one of Sanchez’s lawyers in the 1993 rape-slay of the University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez.
Panelo also explained that the convicted former Calauan, Laguna mayor did not benefit from his referral because the appeal of Sanchez’s family was denied.
“Paano namang nag-benefit eh, dineny nga, eh. Kaya nga ako natatawa may power daw,” he said.
BPP dismissed in December 2018 Sanchez’s petition for executive clemency. It upheld the dismissal of Sanchez’s appeal in a decision dated February 27, a day after Panelo wrote to the bureau.
At the Senate hearing on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, BPP chief Reynaldo Bayang revealed that Panelo wrote to him on February 26 this year, referring a letter written by Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie, regarding the pardon application of her father.
But Panelo clarified that he merely “referred” the letter to BPP and did not recommend the grant of executive clemency to Sanchez.
Duterte also defended his spokesman by saying that Panelo did the right thing and did not violate the law.
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