Palace: Rapist, muderer ex-Laguna mayor ineligible to benefit from law on good conduct
Malacañang said on Friday that convicted rapist and murderer, former mayor Antonio Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna, is disqualified to be a beneficiary of the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GTCA).
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said a review of Republic Act No. 10592 or the law on GCTA, which amends the Revised Penal Code on the computation of the duration of imprisonment based on an offender’s good conduct, reveals it is categorical in excluding recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage.
This is the letter and the spirit of the law, he said.
"Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that all those convicted of a heinous crime, including Mr. Antonio Sanchez, would be ineligible and disqualified from availing the benefits of the GCTA," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
"We therefore subscribe to the opinion of the Secretary of Justice on the matter," he said.
Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua or each term is equivalent up to 40 years for raping and killing University of the Philippines-Los Banos students Eileen Sarmenta and murdering Allan Gomez in 1993.
Panelo said the Palace supports the Department of Justice's directive to the Bureau of Corrections to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who have been found guilty by courts of having committed high profile, heinous crimes or crimes so grave that show extreme moral depravity.
Many people, including relatives of Sanchez's victims, denounced the supposed inclusion of the ex-mayor in the list of about 11,000 who could benefit from RA 10592.
"The sentiments of the people are understandable vis-à-vis the law passed by Congress during the previous administration and its recent interpretation by the Supreme Court. As we have said, our task is to merely execute what the laws as they stand," said Panelo, who became one of Sanchez's lawyers.
"We reiterate, however, that while the Executive Branch has no discretion in the implementation of the GCTA, the law still allows for the proper evaluation of inmates to ensure their proper coverage. Otherwise stated, while the Executive Branch is constrained to grant the benefit of the GCTA, it will only grant it to those who are entitled to such benefit," he said.
Panelo said Malacañang also welcomes the intention of some lawmakers to conduct hearings in aid of legislation with respect to the current law on the GCTA.
"We assure that responsible officials will attend the same and assist them as they endeavor to craft better penal laws that are not only fair but are also morally sound," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS