Panelo admits meeting Sanchez family, seeking for pardon
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo admitted on Tuesday that he met the family of rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, in his office in Malacanang.
The chief presidential legal counsel also confirmed that Sanchez's daughter sent an email to him seeking assistance for President Rodrigo Duterte's possible granting of pardon for her father.
"Well, they came to the office and - was it (letter) personal received? Ah it was an email and then they came and I told them exactly we will refer the same, as we all refer all. We can't do anything about it," Panelo said in a press briefing.
He said the meeting took place around February this year, almost the same time when Marie Antonelvie J. Sanchez sent him an email.
In Marie Antonelvie's email dated Feb. 8, 2019, she said she wrote to Panelo in relation to the case of her father whose case was "originally handled" by the spokesman as counsel.
"Anent thereto, I am respectfully requesting the assistance of your good office by providing us, if possible recommendations from you, former Special Aide to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" T. Go, and our good President, his excellency, the Hon. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, for the grant of pardon unto my father," Sanchez's daughter said.
She also assured in the email that "it shall be treated with utmost confidentiality."
Panelo said Sanchez's daughter's letter was just one of the many communications that his office received from various individuals seeking the assistance of his office.
In the press briefing on Tuesday, he said, "my response was in relation to Sanchez himself - 'he has been in prison for a long time'. So, my understanding was the question was in reference to Mayor Sanchez himself," he explained.
According to Panelo, Marie Antonelvie's letter was referred to Board of Pardons and Parole Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang.
The BPP denied the "motion for reconsideration" filed by Sanchez for his petition for executive clemency due to the "gravity of the offenses" he committed.
Meanwhile, Panelo vowed to file libel suit against two online media organizations, Rappler and Inquirer.net due to the alleged malice on their news articles.
He noted the word "endorsed" used by Rappler regarding the letter sent by Sanchez's daughter to him and the word "recommending" that Inquirer.net used on the same communication.
"Those articles are wreaking with not only irresponsibility but with malice, and it is libelous in nature because it tends, it imputes an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor," he said.
"In view of this, I'm filing a libel case against Inquirer.net and the Rappler for publishing these malicious articles," Panelo said.
In a statement, Inquirer.net said it respects Panelo's right to sue for libel if he feels aggrieved by the report.
"We shall refer the matter to our lawyers when he files the suit," it said.
Rappler, on the other hand, branded Panelo's libel threat as "pure diversionary tactic," noting that the latter "lawyered" for Sanchez.
"Instead of shooting the messenger, Panelo should instead answer questions about his possible conflicts of interest," it said.
If not for public outcry, Sanchez would have been released last month under Republic Act No. 10592 or the law on good conduct time allowance. Celerina Monte/DMS