#NoToSanchezRelease: Netizens, groups demand justice for ex-mayor’s rape-slay victims


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#NoToSanchezRelease: Netizens, groups demand justice for ex-mayor’s rape-slay victims
Netizens question the integrity of the Philippine justice system, wonder which between the rape-slay and impunity is worse


MANILA, Philippines – When news broke that rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez may get out of the New Bilibid Prison soon, netizens on Thursday, August 22, demanded justice for his victims, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) students Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

Groups vehemently disagreed with the basis of Sanchez’s release, contesting the supposed “good conduct” exhibited by the rapist-murderer in prison, where he was caught with marijuana in 2006, with P1.5 million worth of shabu in his cell in 2010, and unauthorized equipment such as air-conditioning unit and a flat-screen TV in 2015.

Sarmenta was abducted by Sanchez’s deputy chief of police George Medialdea and other accomplices “as a gift” to the then-mayor. Sanchez and his accomplices took turns raping her then killed her. Her friend Gomez was killed ahead of her. 

Sanchez and his accomplices were meted 7 terms of reclusion perpetua for the 1993 rape-slay. Aside from that, Sanchez was sentenced to two terms of reclusion perpetua for the double murder of Nelson Peñalosa, the political leader of Sanchez’s opponent for the mayoral seat at the time, and his son Rickson.

After 25 years in prison, however, Sanchez may be qualified for release because of the 2013 Good Conduct Time Allowance law and a high court ruling that made the law retroactive.

Changed man?

“His actions in prison clearly do not reflect that of a changed man. Furthermore, we cannot bear the release of the man who cold-bloodedly robbed two fellow Iskolars ng Bayan of their lives and their future in serving the nation and the people,” said the UPLB Sigma Rho fraternity. 

The UP Office of Student Regent noted that Sanchez’s possible release from prison shows that the Philippine justice system favors those in power.

“This case is one of the many more cases proving that the justice system in the country is rotting as ever, only seeking to side with the oppressors and those in power. They’re criminalizing human rights advocates and activists but they’re letting rapists, murderers, and plunderers walk free,” the office said in a statement.

“This is a distortion of justice promoted and perpetuated by the macho-fascist Duterte and other hoodlums in government…. We are enraged that Sanchez is even considered for release when his acts in prison are far from being construed as ‘good behavior,’” added Gabriela Alliance of Filipino Women.

The League of Filipino Students emphasized that good conduct alone won’t absolve Sanchez of his heinous crimes.

Hindi ‘good conduct’ ang magbibigay hustisya sa kaso ni Eileen at Alan, ito ay paglapastangan sa hustisya at pagwawalang bahala sa pamilya ng mga dalawang biktima,” League of Filipino Students said in a statement. (Good conduct won’t give justice to the case of Eileen and Allan; this is a betrayal of justice and shows a blatant disregard for the families of the two victims.)

Outraged by the latest news involving Sanchez, the UPLB University Student Council asserted that the “ruthless” track record of the rapist-murderer shows he will only pose a danger to the public if released.

A man sentenced to prison for 9 lifetimes for such an atrocious, and hellish series of crimes must never walk free. His ruthless and Machiavellian track record only proves how he is a danger to the public, and must never be freed,it said in a statement.

Second chance? 

Does Sanchez still deserve a second chance if he’s truly reformed?

A netizen answers point-blank: “Some people don’t deserve a second chance. Some people deserve to rot in hell.”

This is in stark contrast to Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s initial statement to ANC, where he claimed Sanchez “deserves a second chance” if the rapist-murderer had truly reformed. 

Online, Sanchez was the second top trending word on Twitter Philippines on Thursday as netizens slammed the possible release of the rapist-murderer.

Pointing out the inconsistencies in Dela Rosa’s statement, netizens hit the senator for his double standards, since he had been pushing for the capital punishment to be imposed on persons convicted of heinous crimes.

They also noted how Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo was among the defense lawyers of Sanchez in this case. Panelo handled other controversial cases during his private practice, representing Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, who was charged of plunder in 2013 for allegedly receiving commissions of P224.5 million from the pork barrel scam linked to Janet Lim Napoles; Andal Ampatuan Jr in 2014 for the Maguindanao Massacre; and the Marcoses.

Dismayed by the possible release of Sanchez, netizens questioned the integrity of the Philippine justice system, wondering which between the rape-slay and impunity was worse.

Netizens also pointed out how the Duterte administration plays a role in redefining the norms involving rape jokes and rape-slay cases. They remembered the President’s joke about how the mayor should have gone first in the gang rape of an Australian missionary when he was the chief executive of Davao City.

Twitter user Vec Alorpha highlighted how this was the exact thing that happened to Sarmenta, who was given to then-mayor Sanchez as a “gift.”

Demanding justice for the victims of the rape-slay case, netizens and notable figures like UP Board of Regents Chairman Popoy de Vera showed their disapproval by posting a “No to Sanchez’s release” graphic.

Meanwhile, thousands have signed a change.org petition to keep rapist-murderer Sanchez in prison. As of 7 pm on August 22, the petition has gotten more than 61,000 signatures. Rappler.com

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