Supreme Court distances from Sanchez case, clarifies it only interpreted the law

THE Supreme Court on Friday, August 23, distanced itself from the reported possible release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, clarifying that it did not order the release of the former mayor.

According to SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka, the high court ruled only on the retroactive application of RA 10592, which expanded the application of good conduct and time allowance for prisoners.

“The Supreme Court did not order the release of Mayor Sanchez in its recent decision,” said Hosaka in a press briefing.

He added, “In those cases, the primary issue was the legality of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10592 which provided for the prospective application of the said law.”

RA 10592 was initially to be applied prospectively, which means its provisions will only cover cases from the time it was enacted in 2013. 

However, the en banc declared the law should be applied retroactively in a ruling penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta. 

Hosaka said that the SC ruled that the law should have retroactive application as it had the effect of reducing the sentences of qualified prisoners, making the law advantageous to them.

“Thus, the Supreme Court struck down the IRR and ruled that RA 10592 be applied retroactively, because it had the effect of lowering or reducing the sentences of qualified prisoners, hence, advantageous to them,” he said.

The spokesman also stressed that the policy to increase good conduct and time allowances to qualified prisoners stemmed from RA 10592 itself and not from the tribunal. 

“Finally, the implementation of RA 10592 is not within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,” he said.

“Like all laws, it is to be implemented and executed by the executive branch of government. Again, the judiciary merely interpreted the law and ruled that it can be applied retroactively,” Hosaka added.

Sanchez not eligible

Malacañang on Friday said convicts serving sentences for heinous crimes, such as in the case of Sanchez, are not eligible for early release from prison.

The statement came following a review of RA 10592.

“A review of Republic Act No. 10592 or the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), which amends the Revised Penal Code on the computation of the duration of imprisonment based on an offender’s good conduct, reveals that 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,” said Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“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,” he added.

It was earlier reported that Sanchez was one of the 11,000 prisoners likely to walk free from prison due to the recent ruling that declared the law on GCTAs should be applied retroactively, or to all cases, even from before the enactment of the measure in 2013.

Sanchez, who was then-mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta as well as the murder of Allan Gomez. He was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua. 

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