Mother of Allan Gomez joins UPLB protest rally against release of son's murderer
MANILA, Philippines – “Let us not make this thing of release or pardon happen,” a tearful Illuminada Gomez told student protesters at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Thursday, August 22.
Illuminada is the mother of Allan Gomez, the UPLB student who in 1993 was kidnapped and killed with Mary Eileen Sarmenta by policemen and goons of then-Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez. Sarmenta was raped by the mayor and his men before she was killed.
Mrs. Gomez joined the students, alumni, and affiliates of UPLB on Thursday to protest the impending release of convicted rapist-murderer Sanchez.
Sanchez has been in jail for 25 years, but he is set to be released soon after the Department of Justice (DOJ) said he had put in sufficient good conduct time allowance (GCTA) that reduced his 40-year-term.
Illuminada recalled how life would have been different had his son not been murdered 26 years ago.
“Life would have been different because he is one who will never leave me. But now, he is my guardian angel. Whenever I am in trouble, no matter how small, no matter how big, [I say] 'Bunggit' – we call him Bunggit – 'Bunggit, rescue naman,'” Illuminada said in an interview.
While Sanchez seem to have enough resources to win the case, Allan’s mother said the truth would still prevail.
“Parang walang katinuan ang mga taong humalay at pumatay sa mga mahal namin sa buhay (Those who raped and killed the ones we loved weren't in their right minds). It was a long fight after that,” Mrs Gomez said.
Filemon Nolasco, lawyer of the Gomez family, spoke before the students in the rally, questioning the good behavior that authorities claimed Sanchez had exhibited.
"Sino ang magsasabi na ang isang preso ay may good conduct at dapat nang palayain? ‘Yun ang dapat ipaliwanag. Masusi naming pag-aaralan ang good conduct ng former mayor Antonio Sanchez,” Nolasco said.
(Who will determine if the prisoner has exhibited good conduct and must therefore be released? That must be explained. We are carefully studying the supposed good conduct of former mayor Antonio Sanchez.)
Nolasco said the Gomez family foresees that this case continues to be a hard fight.
“Kasi nagsalita na ang dating chief ng Philippine National Polic (PNP) na ngayon ay senador, na si dating mayor Sanchez daw ay dapat bigyan ng second chance. Hindi rin maiiwasan na mag-isip ng iba ang pamilya na magiging madali ang laban kasi lingid sa inyong kalalaman, ang spokesperson ngayon ng pangulong Duterte, si Attorney Panelo, ang kanyang abogado noon,” Nolasco said.
(Because the former PNP chief-turned-senator said that former mayor Sanchez should be given a second chance, the family couldn’t help but think that this wouldn’t be an easy battle, also because, unknown to many, the spokesperson of President Duterte Salvador Panelo was Sanchez’s former lawyer.)
Panelo denies he has anything to do with the possible early release of his former client, saying the rapist-murderer is "automatically" among the potential beneficiaries of the law and Supreme Court ruling. (READ: Remember? Salvador Panelo was Antonio Sanchez's lawyer in UPLB rape-slay case)
During the rally, Aixian Lim of the University Student Council said, “Mariing kinukundena namin ang nakaambang pagpapalaya sa isang mamamatay tao at rapist na si Antonio Sanchez. Tayong members ng UPLB community ay hindi makakalimot.” (We strongly condemn the impending release of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez. We, the members of the UPLB community, will never forget.)
Aurelo Tayao of Upsilon Sigma Phi echoed this, as he urged the students to continue their fight for justice. Allan was a fraternity brother.
"Twenty-six years ago, hindi rin naging madali ang paglilitis kay Sanchez. Ngayon, nanawagan ako sa inyo, mga kabataan, ipagpatuloy natin ito na tayo ay tumututol. Ipaglaban natin ang hustisya,” Tayao said.
(Twenty-six years ago, the trial of Sanchez wasn’t easy at all. Now, we are calling all youth to continue this protest. We will fight for justice.)
Allan’s mother commended the solidarity shown by the youth. “There is hope with you all around and being here on campus,” she told the students on Thursday.
“I want to say thank you...that students are still awake. You weren’t here before because that was 26 years ago. But then you have an understanding of things.I'm happy that you are here” she added.
Thousands have signed a petition demanding that the government keep Sanchez in prison.
On Thursday, Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon said Sanchez may not be qualified for early release because of his past behavior. – with reports from Pat Echano/Rappler.com