MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo had endorsed the letter of the family of rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez regarding his application for executive clemency, the Bureau of Pardons and Parole said on Tuesday, September 3.
At the second Senate hearing of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law on Tuesday, September 3, chief Reynaldo Bayang revealed that Panelo wrote to him on February 26 this year.
Bayang read Panelo's letter at the hearing:
"In line with the President's commitment for good governance, transparency, and immediate action on the matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises," the letter said.
"We request that your good office update us for record purposed and for whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with the law and the policy of the President for good government," it added.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
Panelo is among the officials who wrote to the BPP to vouch for Sanchez, including former Laguna governor ER Ejercito, and mayors and vice mayors of Laguna.
Marie Antonelvie, the daughter of Antonio, filed the application for executive clemency with the BPP on February 8 this year.
Asked whether the BPP denied Sanchez's application, Bayang said: "That's correct, sir."
"Dineny 'nyo so walang tumalab. Walang kamandag sa inyo yung sulat (You denied so it didn't have any effect. The letter has no effect)," Gordon said.
Gordon then asked: "Alam 'nyo ba na abugado ni Mayor Sanchez si Attorney Panelo dati? (Did you know that Attorney Panelo used to be the legal counsel of Mayor Sanchez?)" (READ: Remember? Panelo was Antonio Sanchez's lawyer in UPLP rape-slay case)
Bayang nodded in affirmative.
Gordon commended the BPP for not recommending Sanchez for executive clemency, but said that they should have told off the officials who wrote on the convict's behalf.
"Dapat ang sinabi 'nyo, 'Wag 'nyo kaming sulatan. (You should have told them, 'Don't write to us')," Gordon said.
Panelo on Tuesday denied that he tried to intervene, saying his office does the same for all similar letters that it receives.
Sanchez, who is serving several terms of reclusion perpetua 1993 rape-slay of student Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, made headlines recently after the Department of Justice (DOJ) said he might get out of prison soon because of a reduced prison term under the GCTA law.
The DOJ later backtracked, saying Sanchez was not qualified for early release. (READ: Sanchez's wife learned about ex-mayor's release via 'anonymous' text)