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.