Panelo admits Sanchez's family met him twice; demands public apology from 2 news agencies for "malicious" reporting
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo admitted on Wednesday he met the family of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez twice in Malacanang.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Panelo admitted he met Sanchez's family in his office sometime in February when Sanchez's daughter also asked his assistance on their request to grant her father a pardon.
Asked if that was the only time that he faced Sanchez family, he said, "Yes."
But in an interview by CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Panelo, who used to be Sanchez's lawyer, said he met Sanchez's family twice.
"As I remember, the first one was the wife; the second time was when I just came from a press briefing, after the press briefing, outside the (briefing) room, they were there," he said.
He said both meetings pertained to their request for President Rodrigo Duterte to grant a pardon for Sanchez.
Panelo also referred the letter of Sanchez's daughter seeking for the former mayor's pardon to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Panelo justified his actions in relation to Sanchez's case.
"The fact of referral of the letter-request of Mr. Sanchez's daughter to the BPP took away from the OCPLC (Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel) the concern of Ms. Sanchez. It meant that I and the OCPLC did not want to have anything to do with the case of Mr. Sanchez or particularly the request of his daughter for a recommendation on the application of pardon," he said.
Panelo said as chief presidential legal counsel, he could have gone to Duterte and recommended Sanchez be granted executive clemency.
"I could have even met with the family of Mr. Sanchez somewhere outside the office so the public will be unknowledgeable. These could have been condemnatory. My entertaining them in my office and referring their concern to the appropriate body denote that everything is aboveboard and there was nothing clandestine," he explained.
As to his threat to file libel suits against the Inquirer.net and Rappler for their alleged malicious reporting about his referral letter of Sanchez's family to BPP, Panelo demanded an apology, otherwise, he would pursue the complaint.
"It is for this reason that I will be filing libel cases against the reporters of Inquirer.net and Rappler, Inc. should they fail to comply with my demand for a public apology and rectification. It is clear that they have publicly and maliciously imputed to me an act, if not a crime, a vice or defect, which caused the dishonor, discredit or contempt of my person," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS