Following the public outrage over reports that convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez is set for release soon, justice department executives said on Thursday he may not be qualified to be freed any time soon, until he completed serving his 40-year prison sentence.
Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Menardo Guevarra and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon said in separate press briefing that Sanchez was not entitled for sooner release, citing the 2013 law that credits good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
Sanchez and his bodyguards, who became his aides in the crimes, were sentenced a seven terms of reclusion perpetua (40 years) for the rape-murder of Eileen Sarmenta and for the murder of Allan Gomez, who were students of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 1993.
Sanchez’s Involvement in heinous crimes
Justice Secretary Guevarra said that heinous crimes convicts, as well as those who have committed drug offense inside while serving their sentence, must be completely denied of benefits from Republic Act No. 10592, the law provides additional time to be deducted from the sentence of an inmate for his or her good behavior.
He also said that he had already instructed Faeldon to organize a process of elimination of prisoners not eligible for GCTA as the law excluded “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes.”
“I have given instructions to the BuCor chief that the review of GCTA for high-profile or heinous crimes be conducted with a lot of care, caution and circumspection,” justice secretary said.
“If a person is charged with heinous crime, not qualified at all,” he added.
Guevarra also pointed out that in 2006, a sachet of shabu (crystal meth) and a bag marijuana leaves were found in Sanchez’s cell.
Meanwhile, in 2010, P1.5 million worth of shabu hidden in one of his Virgin Mary statues was seized by the prison guards. Aside from that, the ex-mayor was also found illegally keeping appliances.
Guevarra said that drug possession alone “is not (a mere) infraction; that is a crime.”
In support to Guevarra, BuCor Chief Faeldon said a preliminary assessment showed that the rape-murder convict has committed many violations since he his conviction on March 14, 1995 at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
“He has many involvements in some not good behavior that maybe would disqualify him. That’s really the probability,” he told the reporters.
“He may not be qualified to go home today or in the next few months. … It may take him several years,” Faeldon added.
He also noted that the drug charges to Sanchez were lifted in 2011 by the Muntinlupa court. However, the dismissal would have no relevance in the BuCor’s assessment of Sanchez’s behavior.
“As far as the [BuCor] is concerned, his arrest was legal and he committed a violation of the prison rules,” Faeldon said.
Also, he cited that the drug found in his cell in 2010 and the appliances confiscated in 2015 were “clear antithesis of what good behavior should be.”
“These will be points to be raised against him to be qualified for the application of the good conduct time allowance.”