Duterte clears Panelo of wrongdoing in Sanchez executive clemency bid

MANILA, Philippines – For President Rodrigo Duterte, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo did no wrong when he sent the Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP) a letter on the Sanchez family's executive clemency bid for their patriarch, rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez.

"'Yung ginawa ni Panelo, it's not his fault na lawyer siya (What Panelo did, it's not his fault he was their lawyer)," Duterte said on Wednesday, September 4, during a sudden press conference in Malacañang.

"He happens to be there because I appointed him, when (Sanchez family) arrived, he referred them to the proper entity. Panelo did not commit any infraction," Duterte said.

Panelo was one of Sanchez's lawyers during the trial over the 1993 rape and murder of college student Eileen Sarmenta and slay of Allan Gomez.

Senators had questioned the propriety of Panelo's letter to the BPP. Panelo, meanwhile, denied there was any conflict of interest since it was merely a "referral" letter like many other letters he had issued in behalf of relatives of other prisoners. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.