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No to Mayor Sanchez’s release

A monster is defined as a frightening, cruel creature, in human terms someone who is evil, who wreaks havoc for amusement, who hurts and kills for his pleasure or profit.

When news broke in 1993 of then-Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez’s involvement in the rape-slay of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the torture-murder of her friend and fellow student Allan Gomez, the public reviled Sanchez as a monster.

The power of the law subdued the monster and threw him in jail to languish under a sentence of seven terms of life imprisonment.

People were shocked and horrified when they learned that there is a possibility of Sanchez’s early release for good conduct under a law that reduces prison sentences for good behavior.

A petition at change.org entitled “Stop the Release of Mayor Antonio Sanchez; Let Him Serve His Seven Life Sentences” has collected 120,582 signatures as of this writing and more are being added.

In part it reads, “We petition the Department of Justice to stop Sanchez’s release and affirm his seven life sentences. He used his power and position to kidnap, rape, and murder. His actions terrorized a university and an entire town. For full justice to be served, he must remain incarcerated for the duration of his lifetime.”

Incredibly, Sanchez has his apologists. When the story first broke, Senator Bato dela Rosa commented, “(If) it is determined by the Board of Pardons and Parole that Sanchez deserved that commutation, then why not? He deserves a second chance in life.”

This inappropriately indulgent remark promptly reaped a harvest of brickbats, probably leading to Dela Rosa’s next-day pivot: “Ang sa akin nga, ganun ka-heinous ang krimen na ginawa niya, dapat binitay siya noon… bakit kailangan ko pa mag-sympathize? Galit na galit ako sa kaso na iyan.”

He explained that he was only pointing to the law, that if the law allows Sanchez’s release at this time, then it should be considered.

But given the facts of Sanchez’s stay in Bilibid so far, it should be impossible to release him at all. While in prison, he was charged for having forbidden amenities—a flatscreen television and airconditioning unit—in his kubol (hut cell), and possession of a million pesos’ worth of drugs hidden in a religious statue. How is this by any stretch of the imagination ‘good conduct’?

Sanchez was also convicted in 1996 for another murder case, the killing of  father and son Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa.

This man is a monster. One murder is bad enough. But four? And for such a worthless reasons as sexual pleasure and power play? One wonders now if he committed or ordered other murders that were not brought to light.

The finding of the drugs in his cell during his two-decade stay so far also could perhaps point to possible drug use that might have been among the stimuli for his reprehensible actions.

We must be reminded of just how evil a person he is, and why he must not be released, ever. Journalist Desiree Carlos recently wrote a public post on Facebook that gives harrowing details about the Sarmenta-Gomez case.

Carlos was a deskman at Malaya at the time and recalls putting together or editing for a front-page story “15-20 stories coming from the field from reporters who covered the investigation on the Sarmenta-Gomez rape-slay.”

The stories coming from the field so disturbed her that she suffered her first panic attack. She has been experiencing them since then and a few years ago was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. This is one of the reasons why a journalist’s job, even working from an office, is not easy.

Carlos lists facts about the case that emerged from testimonies and National Bureau of Investigation and medical reports after the bodies of Sarmenta and Gomez were discovered (caps hers):

“ 1. Sarmenta interviewed Sanchez for a school paper. Sanchez showed interest in Sarmenta.

2. Sarmenta was abducted after the interview while with her boyfriend Gomez.

3. They were brought to Sanchez’ place.

4. Sarmenta was RAPED BY SANCHEZ, then…

5. Sanchez GAVE SARMENTA to his bodyguards.

6. SARMENTA HAD ONLY A T-SHIRT ON when Sanchez GIFTED her to his men. SHE HAD NO UNDERWEAR AT ALL.

7. The bodyguards put her inside the back of the van.

8. THEY TOOK TURNS RAPING HER.

9. The bodies of Sarmenta and Gomez were found days after.”

But the one particular detail that devastated Carlos and triggered her anxiety attack back then was this: “THE MEDICO -LEGAL REPORT SHOWED THAT THE SEMEN FOUND INSIDE EILEEN SARMENTA FILLED A CAN OF SARDINES” (caps hers).

Now imagine that happening to your sister, wife, daughter, other female family member or relative. Do you still want Sanchez to ever be released? 

FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

Topics: Jenny Ortuoste , Antonio Sanchez , Calauan , Laguna , University of the Philippines-Los Baños , Eileen Sarmenta , Allan Gomez
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