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MANILA, Philippines – It was President Rodrigo Duterte who blocked the early release of rape and murder convict Antonio Sanchez from prison, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said on Monday, August 26.
In an interview with GMA, Go said the President told the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Corrections to deny Sanchez reduced prison time.
“Nung nalaman ni Pangulong Duterte ito, pinarating niya kay BuCor chief [Nicanor] Faeldon at kay Secretary [Menardo] Guevarra na huwag i-release [si Sanchez] upon the order of the higher authority. Sino pa po ba ang higher authority? Not higher authorities, higher authority. Ibig sabihin ang Pangulo,” Go said.
(When the President learned about the news, he told BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon and Secretary Menardo Guevarra not to release Sanchez upon the order of the higher authority. Who is the higher authority? Not ‘higher authorities’, but ‘higher authority’. It means the President.)
Go said that the President made the decision Wednesday night, August 21. (LISTEN: [PODCAST] Ang batas na puwedeng magpalaya sa rapist-murderer na si Antonio Sanchez)
By Thursday, August 22, government officials changed their tune on the issue. Faeldon backtracked and said that Sanchez may not be among the thousands of inmates that may step out of the bars soon.
The former President’s aide said that Duterte does not favor the early release because what Sanchez committed falls under “heinous crimes.”
“Abugado po ang Pangulo. Pinag-aaralan niya ang batas. Excluded po siya dun sa Republic Act 10592. Sa Section 1, excluded ang lahat ng heinous crimes,” Go said.
(The President is a lawyer. He studied the law. [Sanchez] is excluded from the RA 10592. Under Section 1, all heinous crimes are included.)
Go also denied that Sanchez has backers within the government that allowed for his early release.
“Sa tignin niyo papayag si Pangulong Duterte na may backer sa ganung krimen? Heinous crimes? Definitely, wala pong sinasabing backer,” Go said.
(You think the President will allow that there is a backer in such crimes? Heinous crimes? Definitely, there are no backers.)
RA 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law essentially allows for early release from jail by awarding good behavior as a means to recognize reformation.
Where’s the part that talks about heinous crimes? Section 1 mentioned that “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.”
But interpretations of whether heinous crimes are excluded are clashing. (READ: Can heinous crimes be excluded from good conduct time allowance law?)
Guevarra said these should be excluded from being credited good conduct time allowance, but law professor and former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te said that Section 1 is only concerned with preventive imprisonment, and not good conduct time allowance.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III wanted to amend the GCTA law to categorically exclude crimes from its coverage, but Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said there’s no need for it. – Rappler.com
READ previous explainers and stories on this case:
- Sentiments split on SC ruling freeing convicts like ‘beast’ Sanchez
- Antonio Sanchez killed 2 others, but those have no legal bearing on his release
- Eileen Sarmenta’s mother demands proof of rapist Sanchez’s good behavior
- Retroactive law can slash 1990s convicts’ jail terms by up to 19 years
- BuCor changes tune: Sanchez may not be freed soon after all
- Amid Sanchez news, senators split on amending reduced prison term law
- Can heinous crimes be excluded from good conduct time allowance law?