Duterte spokesman denies hand in looming release of ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019   •   376

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday denied any involvement in the looming release of his former client, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.

Panelo, who is now President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said there is no need for him or anyone else to intervene in the case citing the Republic Act 10592 or the law that increased the Good Conduct Time (GCTA) allowance for inmates.

“Hindi na kailangan ng kahit na sinumang tao na mag-intervene, kasi mayroong batas na,” he said.

Panelo added that he has withdrawn as Sanchez’s legal counsel after the conviction. He also admitted to being happy with the release of his former client.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier announced that Sanchez is among the thousands of inmates who are eligible for recomputation of sentence on the basis of GCTA as provided by the law.

READ: DOJ: Ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez, thousands others set for release

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has no reason to believe that Panelo or any other party’s intervention is necessary because prison time records on good conduct had been in existence prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court last June on GCTA’s retroactivity. (Correspondent Rosalie Coz contributed to this report)

Malacañang on ASF-positive PH: ‘No need to worry’

Marje Pelayo   •   September 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang believes the Department of Agriculture (DA) is in control of the situation following confirmation of African Swine Fever (ASF) infestation in the country.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, there is no reason to panic about the matter as the DA assured pork meat in markets are safe for consumption.

Nevertheless, it is important to wait for the formal advice from the DA to be certain.

“I think there is no need to worry considering that the DA secretary has not cautioned us not to avoid or not to eat, or to avoid [pork meat],” he said. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Panelo says Inquirer.net apology over Sanchez clemency report ‘’unacceptable”

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday called as “unacceptable” the public apology issued by the news website Inquirer.net over its report on the plea for executive clemency by the family of convicted rapist-murderer, former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez.

The Inquirer.net earlier apologized for reporting on its social media platform that Panelo wrote a letter to Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) executive director Reynaldo Bayang, recommending executive clemency for Sanchez at the request of the latter’s daughter.

Sanchez was Panelo’s former client in the rape-murder case of Eileen Sarmenta and murder of Allan Gomez.

Panelo denied making an intervention for the Sanchez family’s plea, and the Inquirer.net said it posted the latter’s “clarification upon receipt of his statement on the matter.”

READ: Panelo on Sanchez’s clemency plea: ‘No intervention, nothing whatsoever’

“The updated reports stated that he merely referred the request of Sanchez’s family to Bayang,” the online publication said.

But Panelo rejected it, saying the apology “prefaced it with an alleged clarification from me of what I meant in referring the letter of the daughter of Sanchez.”

“I was not clarifying rather I was telling the Inquirer.net that it maliciously gave a wrong meaning and adverse imputation of the performance of an act which I never did, therefore, besmirching my character and reputation in the process,” he said.

“I educated it on the meaning of referral as against recommendation and endorsement as against indorsement, and thereafter demanded a public apology from it,” he added.

Panelo earlier said he will press libel charges against Inquirer.net and Rappler if the two sites fail to issue a public apology and rectify their reports, which according to him were “reeking with malice” and are “libelous in nature.”

Rappler earlier said in a statement Panelo’s threat to file libel complaints was merely a diversionary tactic.

Duterte sees nothing wrong with Panelo’s referral of Sanchez clemency letter

Robie de Guzman   •   September 5, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (right) and Spokesperson Secretary Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte sees nothing wrong with the move of his spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo to refer the request of Antonio Sanchez’s family for clemency.

Panelo drew criticisms after a Board of Pardon and Parole (BPP) official revealed that Panelo referred the request of Marie Antonelvie Sanchez – the daughter of Sanchez – for executive clemency.

This sparked questions on conflict of interest on the part of Panelo as he was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when the latter was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the murder and rape of Eileen Sarmento and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez.

But Duterte on Wednesday night cleared Panelo of alleged “conflict of interest,” saying he did not commit any wrongdoing in referring the letter of Sanchez’s family.

“Eh kung sabihin nanghingi ng tulong kasi abogado siya noon, ano bang masama niyan?” he asked.

What would have been wrong, Duterte said, was if Panelo handled Sanchez’s plea for the recommendation of their application.

“Ngayon kung sabihin mo, ‘Sige, lakarin natin ‘to. Meron kayong pera? Marami pang naiwan sa jueteng ninyo.’ Well, but Panelo is not that kind of guy. Kaya sabi ko I can vouch for his character. I will have to stand by him because it is really the truth and he did what was — or what is right,” he said.

Panelo earlier insisted that he did not intervene in Sanchez’s case and he only followed the standard procedure when he referred the family’s letter sent last February.

The BPP denied Sanchez’s request for clemency after Panelo wrote the referral. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)


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