Changed man? Ex-Judge Harriet Demetriou: Probe Faeldon, BuCor for considering Sanchez for early release

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Former Judge Harriet Demetriou has called on members of the 18th Congress to investigate officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in connection with the alleged inclusion of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez in the list of prisoners supposed to be freed last August 20.

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.

However, the former mayor was allegedly included in the list of inmates who could be released under Republic Act 10592, otherwise known as the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, which rewards inmates by crediting them a certain number of days served for every month of good conduct.

In a press conference last week, BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon said Sanchez may not qualify for the GCTA because of “many violations”.

He said these include the confiscation of illegal drugs from Sanchez’s cottage or “kubol” inside the New Bilibid Prison in 2006.

Faeldon said the case was, however, dismissed by the Muntinlupa court in 2011 over some “technicality”.

Demetriou, in a press conference at her residence here on Wednesday, said Congress must investigate BuCor officials, including Faeldon, for allegedly violating a salient part of RA 10592 which disqualifies Sanchez from being included among the 200 inmates to be granted freedom under the guidelines of the GCTA provision.

She cited a section under RA 10592 which clearly states that persons convicted of heinous crimes are not qualified to receive the privilege.

Officials should be answerable whether they indeed reviewed the case of Sanchez and found him to be eligible under the GCTA guidelines, she pointed out.

Demetriou was the presiding Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge that convicted Sanchez for committing a heinous crime and sentenced him to seven counts of Reclusion Perpetua or 40 years of imprisonment for every count.

Asked if she would be willing to act as a resource person at the congressional hearing when invited, she swiftly answered: “There’s no problem about it — I am willing.”

“I really wanted to hear and face Faeldon, Salvador Panelo, and (Senator) Bato de La Rosa and to know what they have to say about the case,” she said.

Demetriou, who is also a former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson, said she also wanted to have the opportunity to ask the congressional probe body whether the reported illegal drugs found in Sanchez’s detention cell in 2015 was included in the GCTA evaluation.

She said dela Rosa was then the prisons director. “I just want to know what action did he (dela Rosa) take. Was the illegal drug case investigated?” she asked.

When asked to react to dela Rosa’s statement on social media asking that Sanchez be given a second chance as “he is now a changed man”, Demetriou said, “That is irrelevant” as Sanchez was convicted of a heinous crime by a court. Whether or not he has changed doesn’t matter, the former judge said.

“Ang pinaglalaban ko dito ay ang hustisya, ang katotohanan, hindi lang Sarmenta at ang Gomez family ang pinaglalaban, ito ay para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” she said. (PNA)

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