Convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, died on Saturday, March 27, according to Bureau of Corrections spokesperson Gabriel Chaglag.
Chaglag said in a statement that Sanchez was “found unresponsive” in his cell at the New Bilibid Prison at around 7 am on Saturday, and was declared dead on arrival at the NBP hospital.
He will be “subject for autopsy as per procedure on sudden deaths,” Chaglag said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra later clarified in a statement “that the BuCor is still seeking the conformity of mayor Sanchez’s family for the conduct of an autopsy.”
Chaglag said Sanchez was last seen alive at around 10 pm on Friday, March 26, as he was preparing to sleep.
“When his cell mates woke him up this morning, he was unresponsive. There is no sign of foul play. He had existing conditions such as chronic kidney disease, hypertension, recurring gastro enteritis, prostate problems and asthma,” he said.
The BuCor official said Sanchez’s next of kin had been informed of his death.
Sanchez, 71, was known to suffer from diabetes mellitus type 2. He was confined at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) hospital last year and was then diagnosed as having a “complicated ailment.”
The Supreme Court had called Sanchez, then mayor of Calauan, Laguna, as an “unthinking beast,” for the 1993 rape of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) student Mary Eileen Sarmenta, and the double murders of Sarmenta and her friend, Alan Gomez.
Sanchez was sentenced to 7 terms of reclusion perpetua, or a maximum of 40-year imprisonment terms, but to be served simultaneously. His family refused to heed the court-ordered payment of P12 million in damages to the Sarmenta and Gomez families, claiming that Sanchez is “innocent.”
Sanchez sparked public outrage in 2019 after he was supposed to be released halfway into his full 40-year sentence because of benefits under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), a 2012 Philippine law deducting time off a convict’s sentence based on good behavior.
His release was aborted after the BuCor conceded he committed infractions inside prison. The scandal resulted in more exposés such as GCTA being sold to convicts. It also revealed a very problematic record-keeping by the BuCor.
The issue turned Bilibid upside down such that the DOJ revised the internal rules to exclude heinous crime convicts – this entailed hauling back to prison convicts already released. This also resulted in the indefinite suspension of GCTA grants to qualified convicts.
Guevarra said on Saturday that at the time of his death, Sanchez “was still not qualified for release” under the GCTA. – Rappler.com