Letter surfaces showing Duterte spokesman Panelo referred Sanchez’s clemency bid to pardon board

Coconuts Manila

Two weeks ago, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said he’d had no contact with his former client, convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, since he left the former Calauan mayor’s legal team in 1995. That apparently does not extend to Sanchez’s family.

In a Senate hearing today, it emerged that Panelo’s office forwarded a clemency request from Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie Sanchez, along with a letter of his own to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in February.

A copy of the letter from Panelo was read aloud by BPP executive director Reynaldo Bayang during the hearing, which was called after Sanchez’s near-release from prison last month led to a public uproar over the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

“In line with the President’s commitment for good governance, transparency, and immediate action on the matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter (Antonelvie’s request for clemency) to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises,” Panelo’s letter reads.

“We request that your good office update us for record purposes and for whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with the law and the policy of the President for good government.”

Bayang said, however, that they rejected Antonelvie’s request. He added that several other luminaries (*cough*) wrote to the BPP to vouch for Sanchez’s good character, including Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, former Supreme Court Justice Arturo Brion, and former Laguna Governor ER Ejercito.

At his press conference today, Panelo denied that he was recommending Sanchez for clemency and that it was just the standard procedure in his office to respond to all letters which they receive.

He said Antonelvie’s request for clemency for her father is “just one of the thousands of referrals this office has made to various government instrumentalities… All letters [my office sends] to the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) have the same content with exception to the name of the letter writer. There are hundreds of them.

“There is no part of this… official communication [where I was] asking for intervention. The referral letter speaks for itself. I never recommended anything,” he said.

Late last month, Harriet Demetriou, the judge who sentenced Sanchez to seven life terms in prison, urged Panelo to resign from his post, saying she believed it was likely he was involved with the mooted plan to release the former Calauan mayor from prison. Panelo rejected her accusation.

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