By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang was not surprised that President Duterte was angry when he learned that convicted rapist and murderer former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez could be released earlier due to good conduct.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Senator Bong Go said that Duterte was enraged about the news.
In an interview, Panelo said that he was not surprised that Duterte was angry about the reports because the law was clear that Sanchez was not qualified to be covered by Republic Act (RA) No. 10592.
“I’m not surprised. Why? Because the law is very categorical that those convicted of heinous crimes, among others, are disqualified. They’re not within the coverage of Republic Act 10592,” he said Friday.
“Magagalit siya (He will get angry) because if the law says he is disqualified, bakit mo iko-consider (Why will you even consider him)?” he added.
“‘Di ba, ever since sinasabi natin (Ever since that’s been our policy): if what the law is, will always be the law. Dura lex sed lex. The Executive cannot oppose or abet the law. We will execute it,” he continued.
Republic Act No. 10592 expanded the application of good conduct time allowance for prisoners even during preventive imprisonment and increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct.
The Supreme Court also allowed in June this year the retroactive application of the law as it benefits detention and convicted prisoners.
Panelo, who served as one of Sanchez’s counsel in 1993, said the law should guide the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in reviewing the good conduct time allowance of inmates. He said they must have missed the provision excluding those who committed heinous crimes from those who can benefit from the law.
“The guidance should be the law. Siguro ang nangyari niyan baka (Perhaps what happened was) they were not able to look at the law kasi (because) I noticed also in the law, yung exclusion nasa gitna, eh (was in the middle part),” he said.
“Hindi mapapansin. Usually kasi sinasabi yun sa bandang huli. Baka hindi lang napansin (It’s easy to not see it. Usually exclusions are placed at the end so maybe they just did not notice it),” he added.
The Palace official then said that the BuCor’s assessment on Sanchez’s good conduct time allowance is not anymore necessary since he was not qualified for it in the first place.
“Ang (The) assessment, it applies to those others na (who are) covered. Doon sa mga hindi (For those who are not) covered, [the law is] very clear,” Panelo said.
“Mr. Sanchez, under Republic Act No. 10592, is not eligible. So the President, as the chief enforcer of the law, will have to follow the law,” he added.
Panelo, meanwhile, doubted that Sanchez was able to leave and return to the New Bilibid Prison whenever he wanted to following photos circulating online that Sanchez was supposedly outside the prison.
“I doubt very much. Nasa ano siya eh (He is under), high security. Malabo yun (That’s impossible),” he said.