The aborted release from prison of ex-Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who is serving seven life sentences at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, is legally valid and equitable.
In June 1993, Sanchez and his six henchmen mercilessly gang-raped and killed Eileen Sarmenta, an agriculture student of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. They also murdered her boyfriend Allan Gomez, a student from the same university. All seven were convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. In 1999, the Supreme Court upheld their conviction.
Sanchez has been in prison for 26 years.
After his conviction in Pasig, he was likewise convicted in a separate double murder case.
While detained in Muntinlupa, he was caught with shabu, which he hid in a statue of the Virgin Mary. He claims to be a Marian devotee.
Sanchez never languished in prison. His cell, if it can be called that, is a spacious room all for himself, with the comforts and amenities of home. He does not wear the prescribed prison uniform. He wears clothes which make him look more like a visitor than an inmate.
Life behind bars is supposed to make prisoners engage in some introspection and ultimately, feel contrition for their crimes. Once remorse sets in, they publicly beg for forgiveness from the parties they offended, not for a possibility of parole, but to unburden themselves, even partially, of their guilt. That way, life in prison is correctional in nature, and by the time a prisoner is eligible for clemency, there is little, if any, objection to his rejoining society.
That is not so for Sanchez.
The ex-mayor insists he is innocent. During his trial, he tried to implicate the son of a general, but his story could not stand in the face of the damning testimonies against him.
When news of his possible release made it to the news, Sanchez and his family continued to insist on his innocence.
Despite being a prisoner serving time for heinous crimes, Sanchez used his money and connections to get special treatment from his jailers, as seen in the special accommodations and privileges he enjoys in prison, and which was documented by the news media.
To repeat, Sanchez was caught in possession of shabu while in prison.
That’s not all. Sanchez and his family refuse to pay damages to the Sarmenta and Gomez families which the court set at P12.67 million. Their reason — the ex-mayor is innocent, and the innocent should not be made to pay damages.
Sanchez’s wife claims that she learned about the possible release of her husband through a text message sent to her mobile phone.
At the Senate inquiry on the Sanchez controversy, however, the wife was unable to prove her tale. She testified under oath that she deliberately destroyed her mobile phone after she got the text message.
If the text message narrative is true, then Sanchez’s wife ought to have welcomed that message and saved it in the phone’s memory to share with relatives and friends, and to show it to prison authorities when she goes to get her husband from prison.
Now if Sanchez’s wife did not find the text message important enough to save, then she could have simply deleted it. Deliberately destroying a phone just to get rid of one text message is like burning the entire barn just to roast one pig.
Taken together, the family’s adamant refusal to admit the ex-mayor’s guilt, to pay damages, and to cooperate with the Senate indicates defiance plain and simple.
Life behind bars, therefore, has not reformed Sanchez, and from all indications, no contrition or remorse will be forthcoming from him in the predictable future. In fine, he does not deserve to be released from prison, and must remain in prison for 14 more years.
By the way, Sanchez should stop pretending to be a Marian devotee. Nobody is buying his charade.