Herbie Gomez .
SO, a former mayor convicted for the murders of Eileen Sarmenta and Alan Gomez in the early ’90s may soon be freed along with over 10 thousand prisoners because of Republic Act 10592, a 2012 law that amended articles of the Revised Penal Code. One of the 2012 amendments increased the so-called “Good Conduct Time Allowance” given to inmates.
For the benefit of those who have forgotten or who have no idea what the case is about because they were too young or were not born yet when it happened, the victims were sweethearts and both University of the Philippines-Los Baños students. The convict, Antonio Sanchez, was the mayor of Calauan, Laguna then.
Sanchez masterminded the 1993 torture and murder of Sarmenta and Gomez. Sanchez sexually abused Sarmenta and after he was done with her, he handed her over to his aides so they could finish her off. Before shooting her dead, she was gang-raped. Gomez, her boyfriend, was beaten up and shot dead ahead of her.
For that savagery, which the then Pasig regional Judge Harriett Demetriou aptly described as “a plot seemingly hatched in hell” in her 1995 ruling, Sanchez and six of his henchmen were slapped with seven life imprisonment sentences. The Supreme Court upheld Demetriou’s decision in 1999.
Eleven years after the Pasig court’s decision, Sanchez would find himself in hot water again after he was caught with marijuana and shabu while inside the Maximum Security Compound of the New Bilibid Prison.
Not only that, Sanchez was also found to have amassed ill-gotten wealth that just a month after President Duterte assumed as head of state, the anti-graft court ordered his real estate property, cars, investments and bank deposits confiscated.
According to former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III, there were other unpublicized heinous murders attributed to Sanchez.
Alunan recalled that Sanchez was notorious in the ’90s that Judge Demetriou called him up to ask for security and for the creation of a task force against the then mayor’s crime syndicate and a private army. Sanchez, according to Alunan, was behind jueteng and illegal drug trafficking operations in Laguna.
Alunan also alleged that even in prison, Sanchez was suspected of selling shabu to inmates, and he even tested positive for substance abuse.
Now, here comes Bato dela Rosa saying that this Sanchez “deserves a second chance in life” if the Board of Pardons and Parole sees the ex-mayor deserving of a commutation. As if that wasn’t enough, Bato, the former chief of the Bureau of Corrections, went on to say that Sanchez is a “changed man.”
Sanchez’s second chance is his life in prison now. But commutation? That would be a disruption, if not a miscarriage, of justice.
Here is poster boy of crime and corruption, narco-politics included, and a senator thinks the ogre deserves a second chance. And I had thought Bato and Co. wanted to restore the death penalty for hardened criminals like Sanchez? Make up your mind, Bato. Pastilan.