Spokesman denies hand in Sanchez’s early release plan

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Salvador S. Panelo

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s spokesman yesterday said he had nothing to do with the impending release of former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, a convicted rapist and murderer who was his former client.

“Definitely not, I have withdrawn as his counsel years ago,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said.

Mr. Panelo was one of Mr. Sanchez’s defense lawyers for the rape and murder of two University of the Philippines students in 1993.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra also allayed concerns that Mr. Panelo may have had a hand in the early release of Mr. Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life terms in 1995.

Mr. Guevarra said the presidential spokesman had not interfered in Mr. Sanchez’s case.

The Justice chief on Tuesday said Mr. Sanchez might be released along with thousands of other inmates for good conduct. Their release cannot be appealed.

The Supreme Court in June allowed the retroactive application of time allowance for good conduct of inmates.

The Office of the Ombudsman in 2018 recovered alleged ill-gotten assets of Mr. Sanchez and his wife, getting transfer certificates of title for 19 properties that were forwarded to the Treasury bureau. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas