BALANGKAYAN, EASTERN SAMAR — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday slammed the possibility of convicted former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez’ release from prison, under a law intended to benefit persons deprived of liberty who demonstrate good behavior while serving time in jail.
This comes amid a heated debate over whether Sanchez should be freed under Republic Act 10592, which amended the Revised Penal Code to increase the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.
VP Leni emphasized that giving the former mayor the opportunity to walk free under RA 10592 goes against the essential spirit of the law, given his multiple reported violations while incarcerated, such as possession of illegal drugs and having a luxurious “kubol”.
She said this, instead, highlights the disparity in treatment between the rich and the poor under the present criminal justice system.
“Iyong balita na pagpapalabas [sa kaniya], parang hina-highlight ulit iyong privilege ng mayayaman saka iyong kawalan ng pribilehiyo ng mga mahihirap. Kasi iyong tanong natin: Bakit iyong mga mayayaman, karumal-dumal na iyong ginawa, bibigyan ng pagkakataon na lumabas kahit hindi niya pa nase-serve iyong kaniyang sentence?” Robredo told reporters in Balangkayan, Eastern Samar.
“Tapos iyong mga mahihirap, hindi nga binigyan ng due process, pinapatay. So ano iyong mensaheng binibigay natin sa taumbayan, na talagang kapag mahirap ka, sorry ka,” the Vice President added.
In 1995, Sanchez was convicted for the rape and murder of UP Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta, and the killing of her fellow student, Allan Gomez. For these, he was sentenced to seven counts of reclusion perpetua.
VP Leni, who spent years as a human rights lawyer, said she shares the widespread public outrage over Sanchez’ supposedly impending release, adding that she is glad that Filipinos have expressed strong opposition to it.
“Noong una kong narinig iyong balita, nakakagalit. Parang naging sariwa tuloy ulit iyong balita from many years ago, na talagang binaboy iyong dalawang estudyante,” she said.
She added: “Kaya natutuwa tayo na iyong taumbayan talagang pinarating iyong kanilang boses, kasi paano na lang kung hindi tayo nag-react? Baka nalaman na lang natin nakalabas na siya.”