Aside from the allegation about Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s referral letter of an executive clemency for the convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, Imelda Marcos is confirmed to be among the officials who helped the Sanchez family.
Board of Pardons and Parole Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang confirmed the respective “letter of request” from both officials reaching out to President Rodrigo Duterte to release the former mayor of Laguna.
While Bayang was the one who confirmed the alleged involvement of Panelo in Sanchez’s release opposing the spokesperson’s initial statement, Marcos’ participation was stated by the wife of Sanchez.
Elvira, Sanchez’s wife, told the details to the senators on Tuesday.
During the congressional probe into the implementation of the law on Good Conduct and Time Allowance (GCTA), Elvira said her family asked then-Ilocos Norte Rep. Marcos’ power and help in applying for the executive clemency for her husband, which was endorsed to Bayang.
However, Bayang stated that both requests from the powerful officials were dismissed by the BPP.
Salvador Panelos’ referral
Panelo, Sanchez’s former lawyer, previously denied his involvement in the supposedly release of the convicted-rapist murderer saying he did not try to meddle in the case of his former client.
“It has been the standard operating procedure of the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to respond to all letters received by it and refer them to the appropriate department or agency which has the authority to act on the writer’s concern,” Panelo stated.
Bayang, however, revealed he was actually involved in the release of the detained former mayor.
“In line with the president’s commitment for good governance, transparency and immediate action on matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises,” said Panelo’s letter to Bayang.
“We request that your good office update us for record purposes and whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with law and the policy of the president for good government.”
Panelo said he had already withdrawn from the case of Sanchez even before the appeal was made to the Supreme Court.
“I think that [claim] is far-fetched because… I had withdrawn even before the appeal was made.”
“If the law as it is crafted says that all the inmates are qualified to be released, then that’s what the law says… there is the rule of law and we have to abide by the rule of law,” Panelo added as he defended himself from such accusations.
However, Panelo pointed out that the referral of the letter asking for an executive clemency is different from a recommendation for an executive clemency.
“Referral of the letter asking for executive clemency to the appropriate authority is not recommendation,” Panelo said in his message sent to Inquirer.
“Our office receives similar letters and we refer them to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) for their evaluation. Our office just do the physical act of referring the letters to the BuCor in line with the policy of President Duterte to respond to all letters addressed to the Office of the President.”
Now, Panelo asks Rappler and Inquirer, two of the biggest online media in the country, for a public apology for their allegations that his letter of referral is a plea for pardon of convicted rapist-murderer Sanchez.
“It is clear that they have publicly and maliciously imputed to me an act, if not a crime, a vice or defect, which caused the dishonor, discredit or contempt of my person.”
Imelda Marcos’ request
The copy of letter of Marcos is dated May 29, 2017, addressed to Duterte, asking the same thing as Panelo’s.
“He [Sanchez] has served more than twenty four (24) years of his sentence and with the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) considered, would correspond to an estimated thirty two (32) years of service. Former Mayor Sanchez has also been granted with a Penal Colonist Status since June 14, 2012. Now seventy one (71) years old, he hopes to be released from the prison due to his advanced age and failing health,” said Imelda’s letter.
An executive clemency can be in the form of a reprieve, an absolute pardon, a conditional pardon or commutation of sentence and can be granted by the president of the Philippines upon the BPP’s recommendation.