MANILA, Philippines – “Let him serve his 7 life sentences.”
This is the call of thousands of people to the Department of Justice (DOJ) through a Change.org petition after news broke that rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, may get out of the New Bilibid Prison soon because of a reduced prison term, as provided under a 2013 law that the Supreme Court (SC) had made retroactive.
The Change.org petition, started by a certain B Vergara, had more than 26,000 signatures as of 1 pm Thursday, August 22.
“We petition the Department of Justice to stop Sanchez’s release and affirm his 7 life sentences,” the petition said.
“He used his power and position to kidnap, rape, and murder. His actions terrorized a university and an entire town. For full justice to be served, he must remain incarcerated for the duration of his lifetime,” it added.
Sanchez and his accomplices were meted 7 terms of reclusion perpetua for the 1993 rape-slay case of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Mary Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of her boyfriend Alan Gomez, also a UPLB student.
Sarmenta was abducted by Sanchez’s deputy chief of police George Medialdea and other accomplices “as a gift” to the then-mayor. Sanchez and his accomplices later took turns raping her before they killed her, along with Gomez.
Aside from the rape-slay case, Sanchez was sentenced to two terms of reclusion perpetua for the double murder of Nelson Peñalosa, the political leader of Sanchez’s opponent for the mayoral seat at the time, and his son Rickson.
After 25 years in prison, convicted rapist Sanchez may soon be freed because of a recent SC ruling on the law on reduced prison terms, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday, August 20.
Sanchez qualified for a 2013 law on new guidelines on how to compute good conduct time allowance as basis for reducing prison terms, as a High Court ruling had made the law retroactive.
Public backlash followed the news of Sanchez’s impending release, but human rights lawyers were bound to agree with the SC ruling because of equality of laws. Senators were divided on the issue but some, including Senators Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon – a former justice secretary – disagreed, saying he did not qualifiy for early release.
The petition asserted that Sanchez must serve his 7 life sentences to achieve full justice for Sarmenta and Gomez. Eileen Sarmenta’s mother also demanded proof of Sanchez’s good behavior. – Rappler.com