Convicted ex-mayor Sanchez ordered released August 20, family says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27)— The children of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez on Tuesday said their father has been up for early release last week, but things suddently changed.

Allan Sanchez told CNN Philippines that his father, who was convicted for the 1993 rape-slay of two University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) students, was supposed to be released August 20, and that a release order from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was on hand.

But when the family came to fetch him, they were informed that his release was “put on hold.”

“Suddenly, nag-iba yung tema, hinold. So nagtataka kami, may release order na, hinold ang pagpapalabas ng father ko. So that's a big question. Bakit?” said Sanchez’ son.

[Translation: Suddenly everything changed. So we were surprised, there’s already a release order, my father’s release was held. So that’s a big question. Why?]

“Nangyayari ngayon para bang nasi-single-out ang daddy ko na ngayon mo lang babaguhin ang batas… Wala na ba tayong karapatang magbago kung... ika nga ni Senator Bato (Dela Rosa) "why dont we give a second chance?" una sa lahat, qualified naman siya sa batas,” he added.

[Translation: What’s happening now is that our dad is being singled out. Don’t we have the right to change? Like what Senator Bato said, “why don’t we give a second chance?”]

He added BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon informed them that their father may be released within two months.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, told CNN Philippines that Faeldon denied the Sanchez family's claims.

"I have been informed that BuCor chief Faeldon denies having signed a release order for Sanchez. Likewise, no report on such matter has been received by the DOJ," he said. 

READ: Computing ‘good conduct’: How time served in prison is shortened based on behavior

Reports of the former mayor’s possible early release sparked outrage among different sectors, especially from the UPLB community and the victims’ family and friends.

Sanchez and six others were sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years of imprisonment) after they were found guilty of rape with homicide for the killing of UPLB student Mary Eileen Sarmenta and fellow student Allan Gomez. The former mayor has served 26 years since his arrest in 1993.

The Sanchez family has maintained that the former mayor was not involved in the crime, and was only framed by political opponents.

The Justice Department earlier Tuesday ordered the temporary suspension of the processing of early release of inmates under the good conduct time allowance law. Guevarra noted the verbal order was done as a "precautionary measure and in the interest of prudence” in light of the public outrage on Sanchez’ controversial case.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles, Alyssa Rola, and Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.