Palace says Sanchez not eligible for release under good conduct law

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019   •   864

Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez | Courtesy: PTV

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is not eligible for early release from prison under the new law increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Sanchez, who was convicted of a heinous crime, is not entitled to benefit from the Republic Act 10592 which shortens a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior.

“Mr. Sanchez, under republic act number 10592 is not eligible so the President as the chief enforcer of the law have to follow the law,” Panelo said.

In an earlier statement, Malacañang supported Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in stressing that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from the benefit of its coverage.

Sanchez has been in jail for over 25 years since he was convicted for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

The former mayor was reported earlier to be among the 11,000 persons deprived of who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased the GCTA given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

The news has sparked outrage among the public.

Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule was also questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

The report on Sanchez’s possible release also “enraged” President Rodrigo Duterte, according to his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga sinite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go said in a radio interview when asked about the president’s reaction.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said Sanchez may be disqualified from availing the provisions of the good conduct time allowance law for his alleged violations of prison rules.

The BuCor also assured to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who were convicted of high-profile, heinous crimes or grave crimes that show extreme moral depravity. (RRD with details from correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Muntinlupa Police creates task group to investigate Santos slay case

Maris Federez   •   February 20, 2020

MUNTINLUPA CITY, Philippines — The Muntinlupa City Police has created a special investigation task group to focus on the killing of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) legal officer Atty. Frederick Anthony Santos.

The police said neither the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) installed in the vicinity of the crime scene nor the dashcam of Santos’ vehicle was able to capture the shooting incident that took the life of the official.

Muntinlupa City Police chief PCol. Hermogenes Duque Cabe, however, said they can still check on all the CCTV in the possible route that the suspects took in fleeing the crime scene.
 
“Ongoing ang investigation pa rin hanggang ngayon,” Cabe said.

Based on the autopsy, Santos sustained two gunshots in the head, one on his neck, and three on his left arm.

Witnesses said the suspects left the crime scene on a motorcycle.

The Department of Justice, on the other hand, has earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation on the killing of the suspended BuCor official.

The DOJ doesn’t discount the possibility that the shooting is connected with the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) controversy at the agency.

Santos was supposed to return to work on March 12 after the six-month suspension meted out on him by the Office of the Ombudsman due to anomalous implementation of the GCTA.

Meanwhile, Senator Ronald dela Rosa believes that the drug lords in the New Bilibid Prisons are behind the killing of Atty. Santos.

“’yung nagpapatay dyan sa mga tao natin sa BuCor, yan din yung mga nakakulong na drug lord dyan na kumbaga hindi nasunod yung kanilang kagustuhan. Marami pa yang pera at galamay sa labas na pwede kang ipapatay. Tinatakot nga ang mga judge, mga piskal,” dela Rosa said. —(from the report of Correspondent Sherwin Culubong) /mbmf

Manhunt launched vs. assailants of BuCor top lawyer in GCTA controversy

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are now investigating the motive behind the killing of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Legal Service Department chief, Atty. Fredric Anthony Santos on Wednesday (February 19).

Santos was shot by two still unidentified gunmen in front of his daughter’s school near the New Bilibid Prison as he was supposed to pick her up.

Witnesses said the suspects immediately left the crime scene onboard a motorcycle after the incident.

Santos became controversial after appearing in a Senate inquiry as a witness in the alleged ‘freedom for sale’ inside the BuCor in connection with the inmates’ Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

The BuCor official sustained gunshot wounds in the head and died on the spot, according to the responding rescue team from Muntinlupa City.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday (February 20) ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation on the killing of Santos.

The SOJ also ordered a case build-up and eventually charge those who are behind the murder.

Secretary Guevarra believes that the killing of Santos is likely linked to his role in the GCTA investigation.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCPO) Chief PDG Debold Sinas, meanwhile, assured the safety of Santos’ family following his death.

“We have coordinated with BuCor for the security of the Family na nakatira doon sa BuCor Compound,” he said.

Santos was suspended in September last year by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for allegedly allowing the questionable release of prison convicts.

Following Santos‘ death, Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed that he was informed that the BuCor official promised Senator Panfilo Lacson that he (Santos) will divulge everything he knew about the irregularities in the granting of GCTA privileges inside the New Bilibid Prison. – MNP (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

Formal complaint necessary for gov’t to act on alleged ‘pastillas’ scheme in BI

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang vowed to take action on the reported anomaly inside the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the so-called ‘pastillas’ scheme.

But the Palace said, it could only act on the matter once a formal complaint is filed.

“Any violation, any transgression, any anomaly, the Palace frowns on it and will act on it, if there are complaints formally filed before its office,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Based on an expose by Senator Risa Hontiveros, BI personnel were allegedly taking bribes of up to P10,000 from Chinese nationals who wanted to enter and work in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry.

Panelo said the Palace is expecting BI Commissioner Jaime Morente to spearhead the investigation and enforce the necessary actions on involved BI personnel.

“The Immigration commissioner is tasked to do his job. Meaning, apart from the usual governing of his own territory, he has to know if there is an anomaly in his territory and respond to it,” the Palace Spokesperson said.

Five immigration officials were already relieved following the Senate inquiry yesterday.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate on stopping POGO operations in the country if evidence of corruption is proven because that would definitely have a huge impact on the country’s economy.

“Di ba sabi nga ni Presidente, ‘there is no sacred cow in this government. If it’s against the interest of the people and general welfare, I’ll stop it.’ This is the kind of President we have,” Panelo said. — MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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