Antonio Sanchez was denied clemency in 2019
MANILA, Philippines – It turns out convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez applied for executive clemency but was denied in 2019.
His application was denied outright by the Board of Pardons and Parole, and never reached the Office of the President. Granting clemency is a presidential power, on recommendations by the board.
"Board of Pardons and Parole, at that level, executive clemency was denied, but as I said that's a totally different matter," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday, August 22.
Guevarra said that executive clemency is a different process than being eligible for a reduced prison term under the law on good conduct time allowance or GCTA. The GCTA law sets standards for sentence reduction based on good behavior. (READ: Eileen Sarmenta's mother demands proof of rapist Sanchez's good behavior)
"Hypothetically, if that same person na hindi napagbigyan ang application for executive clemency is eligible for good conduct time allowance and it is enough para masabi na puwede na s'yang ma-release, then he will be released notwithstanding the fact that his application for pardon was previously denied dahil magkaiba ng legal basis 'yun," Guevarra said.
(Hypothetically, if that same person who was denied executive clemency is eligible for good conduct time allowance, and it is enough to say he can be released early, then he will be released notwithstanding the fact that his application for pardon was previously denied because they have different legal basis.)
Prisons chief Nicanor Faeldon changed tunes Thursday and said that, based on reported misdemeanors, Sanchez may not be included in the first wave of mass release.
Counting good conduct
Sanchez was sentenced to a total of 9 terms of reclusion perpetua – 7 for the rape and double murder of college students Eileen Sarmenta and Alan Gomez, and 2 for the double murder of Calauan political figure Nelson Peñalosa and son Rickson. The sentences coincided with each other.
Article 70 of the revised penal code sets rules on serving successive sentences, the maximum period of which should not exceed 40 years. It means that despite 9 reclusion perpetuas, Sanchez shall serve time for only 40 years.
Sanchez has been in jail for 25 years, and the GCTA law made retroactive by the Supreme Court qualified the convicted former mayor for early release if good conduct is proven.
However, Faeldon said misdemeanors, such as stashing drugs inside Bilibid, will affect his good conduct time record, such that Sanchez may still stay inside prison "for several years."
Sanchez was caught with marijuana in prison in 2006, with P1.5-million worth of shabu in 2010, and with airconditiong unit and flat screen TV in 2015.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said it has assigned more than 60 personnel working round the clock to study the good conduct time record of all qualified inmates, including Sanchez. – Rappler.com