Duterte blocks early release of rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — President Rodrigo Duterte has stepped in to block the possible early release of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, a convicted rapist and murderer, on the grounds of good behavior.

Senator and close aide Bong Go on Monday said Duterte reviewed Republic Act 10592 amid public outcry on the possible early release of Sanchez based on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

"Hindi ire-release si Sanchez upon the order of the higher authority — sino pa ba ang higher authority? Nag-iisa lang po ang Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas," he said on the sidelines of the National Heroes' Day rites.

[Translation: Upon the order of the highest authority — the President of the Philippines — Sanchez cannot be released.]

He said Duterte directly ordered the Bureau of Corrections and Justice Department to stop Sanchez's release because the good conduct-based sentence reduction policy categorically excluded persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage.

"Pinaabot niya kay BuCor Chief Faeldon at Secretary Guevarra para iparating sa kanila na hindi maaaring ma-release 'yan," Go said.

[Translation: He told BuCor Chief Faeldon and Justice Secretary Guevarra that Sanchez cannot be released.]

Go's announcement was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo.

"Nakausap ko si Presidente, talagang sabi nya nga the very night na lumabas ‘yan eh tinawagan niya na si commissioner Faeldon at sinabi nya na agad ang stand nya (not to allow the release)," he said on "The Source."

However, Guevarra said that the request that he received from Malacañang was to "hold the processing of Sanchez's case until all the factual and legal issues have been fully threshed out."

DOJ earlier said it may suspend the processing of GCTAs pending review of its guidelines by a task force. Undersecretary Markk Perete said they are hoping to finish reviewing the guidelines within 10 days so it does not affect other inmates.

"We also don’t want the process unduly delayed with respect those really entitled to the benefits of the law," he said.

Guevarra also said it will ask the Congress and the Supreme Court to clarify the provisions in the law that can shorten the time to be served by a prisoner. He said they will set a deadline for the review of the guidelines, in consultation with the Bureau of Corrections, the Board of Pardons and Parole, and other relevant agencies “to avoid any undue prejudice to the rights of [persons deprived of liberty] who have validly earned GCTAs.”

He earlier announced Sanchez is one of the 11,000 inmates who will benefit from the law, but following public backlash, officials changed their tune on Sanchez possibly benefiting from the expanded GCTA law.

Sanchez, along with six other individuals, was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez. They were sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment. This would total to 280 years, but the law only allows a maximum prison time of 40 years.

Sanchez and his henchmen were also convicted of the murder of father and son Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa. Nelson was an ally of Sanchez's political rival, Dr. Virvilio Velecina.

It has also been reported that Sanchez was caught with drugs inside his cell, stashed inside a statue of the Virgin Mary.