Drilon seeks Senate probe on reduced sentence of convicted rapist ex-Mayor Sanchez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019   •   413

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he will file a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the reduction of sentence of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, a rape and murder convict.

Drilon questioned the applicability of the Republic Act 10592 to Sanchez who was previously reported to have been involved in the smuggling of illegal drugs and other contrabands inside his jail cell.

“Ang balita ay involved siya sa drug trade sa Muntinlupa. Paano naman nakaroon siya ng allowance for conduct of good behavior? Ang balita pa natin ay mayroon siyang aircon sa kaniyang kulungan. Paano naman naging good conduct ito?” Drilon said in media interviews.

Drilon cited the allegations of possession of illegal drugs against Sachez in 2006 when a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. In 2010, he was again caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu.

Five years after, authorities seized an air conditioning unit and a television set from his cell.

Drilon said he wondered how the Bureau of Pardon and Parole arrived in its computation of Sanchez’s good conduct time allowance.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spokesperson Sonny del Rosario said that the convicted mayor has already served 48 years following the computation of his good conduct time allowance.

“Paano natin mako-consider na good behavior ‘yun? Is Mayor Sanchez really qualified under RA 10592? This is a question of fact, so it is best for the Department of Justice to put on hold its decision until these issues are resolved,” the senator said.

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez. He has been in jail for 25 years for seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

Drilon was the country’s Justice secretary during Sanchez’s conviction.

“I became close with the Sarmenta family in our efforts to put behind bars Mayor Sanchez and his men. I felt sorry for the Sarmenta and Gomez families. This has reopened old wounds,” he added.

The lawmaker appealed to the Department of Justice to put on hold the release of Sanchez pending the review of his qualifications.

“We appeal to the Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra to hold the release of Sanchez and to review and study carefully if, number one, Sanchez is really entitled to the benefits of RA 10592; and, number two, if he has really exhibited good conduct while he is in prison,” he said.

Roxas tells Enrile: Public office ban is for those facing plunder charges

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday twitted former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, saying those accused of plunder or stealing from government coffers should be the ones banned from seeking or holding public office.

“Ahem. Yung dapat barred from public service at makulong, yung may kaso ng plunder,” Roxas said in a Twitter post.

Roxas’ remark was an apparent response to Enrile’s statement that Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima should be “disqualified forever from holding public office” for the mess brought about by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they drafted for the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

READ: Enrile wants De Lima, Roxas perpetually barred from public office for GCTA mess

Enrile earlier blamed Roxas and De Lima, then Justice Secretary, for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts since its enactment in 2013.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office. Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided of what they did,” Enrile said in a media interview at the Senate on Wednesday.

The former lawmaker said the law clearly states that convicts involved in heinous crimes are among those excluded from availing of the early release rule based on good conduct credits.

Enrile said the IRR crafted by De Lima and Roxas, which supposedly added heinous crime convicts as GCTA beneficiaries, was “unconstitutional and void ab initio (from the beginning).”

But according to Roxas, the IRR faithfully reflects the RA 10592 and the Revised Penal Code, stressing that each provision corresponds to specific parts and paragraphs of the statute particularly on exclusion of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

“Allegations that the IRR has strayed from the law on which it is based are unquestionably unfounded,” Roxas explained in a letter responding to the Ombudsman’s request on the matter.

Roxas cited Rule 4, Section 6 of the law’s IRR on provisional release while under preventive imprisonment, which states that: “Whenever an accused has undergone preventive imprisonment for a period equal to the imposable maximum imprisonment of the offense charged to which he may be sentenced and his case is not yet decided, he shall be released immediately without prejudice to the continuation of the trial thereof or the proceeding on appeal, if the same is under review, except for the following: ‘recidivist, habitual delinquent, escapee, person charged with heinous crimes’.”

Enrile, 95, is facing a P172-million plunder charge before the Anti-Graft court in relation to the P10 billion pork barrel scam which involved businesswoman Janet Napoles and other public officials.

He is currently out of prison after the Supreme Court granted him temporary liberty in 2015 for humanitarian reasons.  

Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convict released through Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA)law who will fail to surrender to authorities before or on Sept. 19.

Duterte made the announcement two days before his 15-day ultimatum for GCTA-freed convicts to surrender lapses.

“Basta ako sinabi ko, I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive. But maybe dead would be a better option,” the president told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I will pay you smiling. Ibalik ko ‘yan preso, makakain pa ‘yang p***** i**** ‘yan. Gagastos pa ako,” he added.

Last Sept. 4, Duterte ordered convicts who were freed early for good behavior to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police or military camp for the investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

He warned that those who will fail to comply with the order would be treated as fugitives.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 18), a total of 964 GCTA-freed convicts have surrendered to authorities and are now under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) custody, according to the Department of Justice.

This number is more than half of the 1,914 heinous criminals who were released for good behavior under the expanded GCTA rule.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and a Senate inquiry into the issue revealed the alleged modes of corruption in the national penitentiary involving several BuCor employees.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law, which was enacted in 2013 during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Drilon: Anti-drug campaign is failing due to ‘recycling’ of illegal drugs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 17, 2019

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed disappointment after Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Dir. Gen. Aaron Aquino admitted that ‘recycling’ of illegal drugs is still rampant.

According to Drilon, the said admission is a “sign” that the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is not working.

“Given that admission, I am not very optimistic about the success of the anti-drug campaign, in general,” he said.

Drilon also expressed dismay that the very people who enforce the law are the ones violating it.

“This is worrisome. This is a decades-old case of bantay-salakay, wherein the people who are given the task of enforcing the law insofar as drug trafficking is concerned are the ones who lead the anomalous practices,” Drilon said.

In order to prevent the “horrible” practices, according to Drilon, he will request the Office of the Court Administrator to strictly enforce the law on the burning of drugs confiscated.

The senator will also propose to reopen the PDEA unit in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, after its old unit was closed.—AAC

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