Vigilance and social media thwarted the early release of Antonio Sanchez

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok August 25,2019 - 07:28 AM

When newspaper reporters received a disturbing information on the evening of August 20, 2019 that convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez will soon step out of the New Bilibid Prisons a free man, they immediately checked the story with Department of Justice Secretary Medardo Guevarra.

The DOJ Secretary didn’t hesitate to respond to media queries and told reporters in a telephone conference that Sanchez “may actually be released.” Citing a Supreme Court ruling that allowed for the retroactive application of Republic Act 10592 also known as Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), Secretary Guevarra reiterated that Sanchez is very likely for release.

The pronouncements followed by the comments of Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo who said that Sanchez will be released by operation of RA 10592 practically sent the national media into a state of great excitement and confusion because the case of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez easily lands a slot in the 10 heinous crimes of the century.

The rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez convulsed the country from 1993 to 1995 for its chilling and gory details such that when the news of Sanchez’ impending release was put out, it stoked public outrage and haunted the people’s collective memory.

The penalty of 7 reclusion perpetua, each equivalent to up 40 years in prison or 280 years imprisonment on each of the seven men also ordered them to pay P11.3 million in damages to the families of Sarmenta and Gomez. Twenty five years after the crime was committed, Sanchez has yet to indemnify the victims.

With the exception of Guevarra, Panelo and Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, the Filipino people cannot accept that Sanchez should be freed on the basis of GCTA.

One doesn’t even have to be lawyer to understand the spirit of the law. In October 2006, Sanchez was caught in possession of shabu and marijuana during a surprise inspection and for this he was charged with possession of illegal drugs. In July 2010, he was caught again with P1.5 million worth of shabu. Apparently living the good life inside the national penitentiary, an air con unit and a flat screen TV were seized from his cell during a raid in 2015. The foregoing facts would show that Sanchez is a recidivist or habitual criminal which disqualifies him from RA 10592 (Article 1 Section 29 of Act 3815).

On the other hand, they need only to listen to Sanchez who until now does not own responsibility for the rape and murder cases.

During the trial, he had pointed to Kit Alqueza as the mastermind. To this day, Sanchez maintains his innocence, which as far as I’m concerned translates to a direct attack on the country’s justice system.

The vigilance of mainstream media and the public who vented their anger on social media eventually pressured the government to backtrack on its plan for the early release of the murderous mayor.

Should this development allay the anxiety of the public and the fears of the families of the victims? The question was raised during a TV interview over ANC with Mrs. Clara Sarmenta and Iluminada Gomez hours after the DOJ backtracked on its earlier pronouncements.

The mothers of the victims who earlier denounced the DOJ move as favoring the criminals said that despite the recent about face, they are not lowering their guard.

***

This corner join colleagues in the local media industry in mourning the passing of Talisay City Councilor and former Provincial Board member Julian Daan, a.k.a. Esteban Escudero. The legacy of legendary Teban is his passion for writing and directing radio soap operas that have endeared him to generations of people in the Visayas and Mindanao. Teban’s popularity eventually enabled him to carve a successful political career which now extends to his widow, Yolly.

Perhaps not many people know that Teban was also an active supporter of the Catholic church. In Talisay City, he is known to give logistical and moral support to various church activities.

As a member of the lay Schoenstatt Movement in Lagtang, Talisay City, I often bump into him and his wife Yolly in many Schoenstatt milestones. In fact, I gathered that the couple had prepared to celebrate their wedding anniversary in the Schoenstatt Shrine a couple of months from now but some things are just not meant to be.

The Schoenstatt community offers its heartfelt sympathies to the family of the great Teban. May his soul rest in God’s peace.

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