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Senator Franklin Drilon

Panelo schools Inquirer, Lacson, Drilon on legalese, clarifies Sanchez referral

in News/Tabloid PH News
Panelo schools Inquirer, Lacson, Drilon on legalese, clarifies Sanchez referral

President Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo literally lectured inquirer.net and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon on legal matters when he clarified his decision to refer to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) a letter seeking executive clemency for convicted killer-rapist Antonio L. Sanchez.

Panelo, in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 6), reacted to the public apology of inquirer.net for its social media report that said he “recommended” clemency for Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life imprisonment in 1995.

“I read the apology, they say that they made (an apology), and as worded, is unacceptable to me. They are doing it because I made a clarification of what I meant in the referral of Sanchez. I did not make a clarification, I educated them of what “referral” means as against a “recommendation”; what is “Indorsement” that starts with Letter I as against (Letter) E ‘Endorsement’. I was demanding a public apology precisely because they maliciously imputed to me an act which I never performed, and I never made a clarification.”

“In other words, they are saying they are apologizing because I already made a clarification of what I meant.  Of course, not. They knew what I meant and they twisted it.”

Because of this, Panelo said he will push through with his plan to sue inquirer.net for libel.

“You have to apologize because you committed a mistake. But if you say you apologize because I already made a clarification, then you are making it worse.

I will push through (with the libel case) unless they make the correct apology… apologizing because they maliciously imputed to me an act I never performed,” Panelo stressed.

Panelo then corrected Lacson and Drilon’s comments that he should have inhibited himself and should have not acted on the letter seeking clemency for Sanchez due to conflict of interest. Panelo was a lawyer of Sanchez in the former Calauan, Laguna mayor’s rape-slay case in the mid-1990s.

Panelo said the referral he made automatically meant he inhibited himself from the matter. “I cannot even understand why they (Lacson and Drilon) cannot simply understand that what I did precisely was an inhibition.”

He added: “It means I did not want to do anything with it; why I was throwing it to the direct entity that has the authority.”

inquirer.net, in its apology, said: “inquirer.net apologizes for reporting on its social media platform that Secretary Salvador Panelo wrote a letter to BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang recommending executive clemency for ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.” 

In the Senate hearing on the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act 10592 on Tuesday, BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang confirmed that Panelo merely referred the letter written by Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie.

The February 8, 2019 letter of Panelo said: “In line with the President’s commitment for good governance, transparency and immediate action on matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises. We request that your good office update us for record purposes and for whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with law and the policy of the President for good government.”

Sanchez was almost given an early release due to the GCTA application, but Duterte himself stopped it, noting that convicts of heinous crimes are not qualified to avail of the law’s benefits.

However, around 2,000 life termers have been released already since RA 10592 was implemented in 2014. Duterte already told these released convicts to surrender or face arrest.

Drilon defends GCTA law, calls for suspension of BuCor officials in early release of life termers

in News/Tabloid PH News
Drilon defends GCTA law, calls for suspension of BuCor officials in early release of life termers
Image Credit: frankdrilon / FB

Senator Franklin Drilon said all officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) that were accused of having a hand in the early release of heinous crime convicts should be immediately relieved to prevent them from tampering with the evidence.

“At the very list, they should be suspended immediately. That is the purpose of preventive suspension,” Drilon said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 6). 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in an interview with radio station DZMM also on Friday, said his next action after appointing the officer in charge (OIC) of the BuCor is the suspension of these prison officials and personnel who demanded money in exchange for the early release of life termers.

“The first thing I will discuss with the new OIC is the immediate suspension of those allegedly involved in the GCTA for sale and temporarily lock up the GCTA processing,” he said.

Drilon said the revelations on the third day of the Senate hearing on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592 proved that indeed prison officials were making money out of the early release of convicts, even those facing life imprisonment for heinous crimes.

A witness said BuCor personnel demanded P50,000 from her if she wanted her husband released through the GCTA provisions.

“We have always speculated that the application of GCTA was tainted with corruption…it (testimony of witness) confirms all suspicions that money changed hands,” Drilon added.

Still, Drilon said the lawmakers do not need to repeal or amend RA 10592 “because the law itself is clear. If properly implemented, the law would have excluded those guilty of heinous crimes.”

He noted that Section 3 of the law did not include those charged with heinous crimes. “If those who are charged are excluded from the law, how much more those who are already convicted. It is so absurd to say life termers are included in the law simply because it is not clear.”

He stressed that it is the procedure and the implementation which were maliciously screwed up.

This, he said, should have not been the case since Department Order 953 issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2015 even made it clear that life termers should only be released upon prior approval by the DOJ secretary. 

In the release of close to 2,000 heinous crime convicts since 2014, Drilon said there was no authority from the DOJ secretary.

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