Guevarra clears Panelo of involvement in ex-Calauan mayor Sanchez’s release
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday debunked speculations that presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo had a hand in the looming release of convicted rapist and murderer former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez.
“I have no reason to believe that the intervention of any person, including Sec. Panelo, will be necessary,” he said.
Sanchez gained notoriety for the 1993 rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.
Sanchez was convicted on March 11, 1995 by Judge Harriet Demetriou, who said that the rape and murder of Sarmenta and Gomez were “a plot seemingly hatched in hell.”
Panelo was one of Sanchez’s defense counsels then.
The SC upheld the Laguna regional trial court ruling in 1999 against Sanchez, who is currently serving his sentence of seven terms of reclusion perpetua at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.
Guevarra disclosed that the Department of Justice and Bureau of Corrections are now recomputing Sanchez’s good conduct time allowance and he maybe be released soon from prison because of a 2013 law increasing GCTA and a Supreme Court decision in June applying the law retroactively.
Guevarra was referring to a June 25, 2019 ruling of the SC that declared invalid Section 4, Rule 1 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10592 in so far as the said IRR provided for the prospective application of the grant of time allowance of prisoners for: i.) good conduct, ii.) study, teaching, and mentoring service, and iii.) loyalty.
As a consequence, all prisoners regardless of whether already serving his/her sentence or undergoing preventive imprisonment may qualify for the reduction of their sentence pursuant to the time allowances under R.A. 10592.
But Guevarra qualified that it wasn’t Sanchez alone who would benefit from this development, but thousands of prisoners as well.
“NBP (New Bilibid Prison) records on good conduct of PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) had been in existence before the SC issued its ruling on retroactivity of GCTAs last June. The matter of computation of GCTAs is therefore purely ministerial,” he explained.
In its June ruling, the SC has declared that the number of days credited to prisoners for their good conduct; study, teaching, and mentoring service; and loyalty should be retroactive in application under the law that became effective on Oct. 10, 2013.
The unanimous full court decision written by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta stated that the increased time allowances given to qualified prisoners would bring about a substantial reduction in their penalties “which eventually will result in the decongestion of the jail system in the country.”
RA 10592 amended several provisions in the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and authorized the credit of preventive imprisonment and revision of good conduct time allowance of persons deprived of liberty.
The law expanded the application of GCTA for prisoners even during preventive suspension, increased the number of days for GCTA, allowed additional deduction of 15 days each month for time allowance for study, teaching or mentoring service (TASTM), and expanded the special time allowance for loyalty (STAL) even during preventive suspension.
However, the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government in 2014 mandated the prospective application of the provisions in the law.