Family of Antonio Sanchez's victim questions convict's supposed good behavior in Bilibid

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FILE PHOTO. The family of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez's rape and murder victim laments the lack of proof of his supposed good behavior in jail.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 22) — The family of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez's rape and murder victim on Thursday lamented the lack of proof of his supposed good behavior in jail.

Maria Clara Sarmenta, mother of University of the Philippines-Los Banos student Mary Eileen Sarmenta who was raped and killed by Sanchez in 1993, said the family was shocked when they heard the news about his possible release.

"Gulat na gulat kami nung lumabas sa media... dun nga lang namin nalaman na meron nga daw, na pwede syang makalaya dahil dun sa bagong batas na inilabas ng Korte Suprema," the older Sarmenta told CNN Philippines' Balitaan. "In-expect namin na meron man lang magsasabi samin, magno-notify."

[Translation: We were really shocked when the news came out. We only knew that he can be released because of a new policy released by the Supreme Court when we heard the news. We expected that we would be informed about it.]

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In 1995, the Supreme Court found Sanchez and six others guilty of seven counts of rape with homicide in relation to the rape and slay of Mary Eileen Sarmenta and 19-year-old colleague Allan Gomez. They were sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

Sanchez, who has now served for 26 years, is one of 11,000 inmates and detainees who will benefit from the law increasing good conduct time allowance and a Supreme Court decision in June that applies the same law retroactively. Under the policy, a prisoners' sentence is reduced if they behaved in detention.

However, Maria Clara questioned Sanchez's supposed good behavior, citing his alleged violations inside the New Bilibid Prison.

"Meron po bang preso na nakita sa buong mundo na nakatira sa aircon na kwarto, may carpet, may TV, may cellphone pa? Tapos nahulin pa po sya ng droga...," she said.

[Translation: Where in the world can you see a prisoner detained in a room with carpet, TV, aircon, and cellphone? He was also caught hiding illegal drugs.]

"Tapos sasabihin po nila na qualified sya sa good behavior. Eh hindi po maarok ng aming pagiisip kung tama ang sinasasabi nila. Bigyan po nila kami ng proof," she added.

[Translation: Then they will say that he has good behavior? We cannot fathom what they are trying to say. Give us proof.]

Despite his incarceration in the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison, Sanchez has been found to have violated prison laws by smuggling illegal drugs and contraband in his jail cell, according to several news reports.

Drug charges were reportedly filed against him in 2006 for possession of shabu and marijuana leaves. Four years later, he was caught with one kilogram of shabu hidden in a Virgin Mary statue; he allegedly sold the ₱1.5 million-worth of illegal drugs to his fellow inmates. In 2015, an air conditioning unit and flatscreen TV was seized from his cell.

DOJ Spokesperson and Undersecretary Markk Perete earlier said that with these violations, Sanchez could be unqualified for the law that favors inmates who show exemplary behavior.

Maria Clara also said she cannot forgive Sanchez yet, as he has never apologized and shown remorse for the crime he committed.

"Hindi ko pa po sya mapatawad kasi nga 'yung pinakita [niya] sa amin even during the trial, walang wala po kaming nakikita na sya ay sorry, nalulungkot, remorse or ina-admit [ang kanyang kasalanan].. Laging sinasabi [niya] wala syang kasalanan," she said.

[Translation: I cannot forgive him yet because of what he has shown to us during the trial for his cases. He has never shown that he was sorry, sad, and remorseful. He always said the he is not guilty.]