MANILA, Philippines – As an advocate of death penalty, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said that rape and murder convict Antonio Sanchez should have received the capital punishment for the heinous crimes he committed over two decades ago.
In an interview with reporters, Dela Rosa clarified on Thursday, August 22, that he was not in favor of the release of Sanchez, except that a 2013 law allowed for his release based on “good conduct.”
He earlier told ANC that Sanchez “deserves a second chance” if he has truly reformed. (READ: Antonio Sanchez killed 2 others, but those have no legal bearing on his release)
“By operation of [the] law, he deserves a second chance. Hindi ko sinasabi na dapat talaga. Ang sa akin nga ganun ka-heinous na krimen na ginawa niya. Dapat binitay na yan siya noon, kung may death penalty noon. Pero wala tayo magawa,” Dela Rosa said.
(By operation of the law, he deserves a second chance. I’m not saying that he should be released. What I’m saying is that he did a heinous crime. He should’ve been executed before if there was death penalty at that time. But what can we do?)
But the erstwhile Bureau of Corrections chief said that Sanchez is now a “changed man” for wearing a skirt and make-up. He said that during his short stint at BuCor in 2018, did not hear of any violations by Sanchez.
“May hawak na bibliya palagi, nakapalda, naka-lipstick. Bagay pa ba sayo na magsiga-siga? … Hindi naman ibig sabihin na ‘yun ang basis. Pwede na rin na masabi mo na mabait na ito naka-palda na,” Dela Rosa said.
(He always brings a bible, wearing a skirt or lipstick. Does that fit being a bully now? I’m saying that that’s the basis. But you can say that he has reformed because he is now wearing a skirt.)
On Wednesday, August 21, the Department of Justice said that Sanchez was among the candidates for early release for good conduct time. Sanchez received 7 terms of reclusion perpetua for rape and murder, and another 2 terms of life imprisonment for the murder of the political leader of his opponent.
But BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon on Thursday changed his tune and said that Sanchez may not be among the 11,000 inmates set to step out of the prisons soon.
Asked whether Sanchez’s case should be reviewed, Dela Rosa said that the Board of Pardons and Parole and the BuCor should explain why he was recommended for reduced jail term.
“Paano nila kinompute? Alam ko meron ‘yang computation. May corresponding GCTA (good conduct time allowance) ‘yan kung ilan ang mababawas sa sentensya mo,” he said.
(How did they compute for that? I know there’s a computation. There’s a correspending good conduct time allowance that will help reduce your sentence.)
In a separate interview, Senator Francis Tolentino said on Thursday that Sanchez’s case “strengthens” the call for the restoration of death penalty, as the latter’s impending release shows the “weaknesses of the justice system.”
“Crimes that are revolting in nature does not merit a second chance,” Tolentino said.
Review the computation
After 25 years behind bars, Sanchez is among the 11,000 inmates who will be up for release because the Department of Justice said that he had put in sufficient good time allowance to reduce his jail time.
Other senators bat for the review of his good conduct, especially that Sanchez was apprehended previously for bringing in P1.5-million worth of shabu inside his jail cell.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had both said that they would file resolutions seeking for a probe into the computation of the GCTA that allowed for Sanchez’s upcoming release.
“I will agree that it is questionable. I don’t believe that the computation is correct,” Sotto said in a media interview on Thursday.
“‘Pag sinabing good behavior, dapat from the time na kinompute ‘yung good behavior mo up to that time na nagcompute sila eh good behavior ka. Dapat wala kang crime na kinomit…2006, Marijuna. 2010, shabu. Is that good behavior?” Sotto added.
(If you say good behavior, you should have registered good behavior from the time that they started computing up to the end. You shouldn’t have committed crimes between that. Eh, 2006, Marijuna. 2010, shabu. Is that good behavior?)
He said that the Senate could only recommend that the DOJ stop the impending release of Sanchez, “Unless someone can bring it up to the Supreme Court so that it will not be executed.”
For his part, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said that the computation for good time allowance shouldn’t be “isolated from other factors that must be considered.”
“It is not an estimation solely driven by the mechanical subtraction of years from the sentence. There are qualitative considerations like good behaviour or if the inmate, by his actions, had exhibited true remorse and rehabilitation,” Angara said in a statement.
“In the grant of clemency, should the friends and family of the victims be mandatorily consulted, and in fact, as the ones directly suffering from the loss, be the first to be solicited of their views, and should the latter be given much weight?” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said that convicts of heinous crimes like Sanchez should not be included in the computing GCTA.
“Hindi siya kwalipikado para ibaba ang kanyang jail term. Walang ipinakitang pagbabago at pagsisisi si Sanchez. Sa katunayan, kahit nakakulong si Sanchez ay patuloy siyang gumagawa ng krimen sa loob ng bilangguan,” Hontiveros said.
(He’s not qualified for his jail term to be reduced. Sanchez did not show remorse or effort to change. In fact, even when he’s in hail, he continued to commit crimes.)
Sanchez’s reduced sentence sparked outrage as his “good conduct” is being contested. Sanchez was caught with P1.5-million worth of shabu in his cell in 2010 and unauthorized equipment such as air-conditioning unit and a flat-screen TV in 2015. – Rappler.com