Palace says Sanchez not eligible for release under good conduct law

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019   •   1425

Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez | Courtesy: PTV

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is not eligible for early release from prison under the new law increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Sanchez, who was convicted of a heinous crime, is not entitled to benefit from the Republic Act 10592 which shortens a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior.

“Mr. Sanchez, under republic act number 10592 is not eligible so the President as the chief enforcer of the law have to follow the law,” Panelo said.

In an earlier statement, Malacañang supported Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in stressing that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from the benefit of its coverage.

Sanchez has been in jail for over 25 years since he was convicted for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

The former mayor was reported earlier to be among the 11,000 persons deprived of who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased the GCTA given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

The news has sparked outrage among the public.

Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule was also questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

The report on Sanchez’s possible release also “enraged” President Rodrigo Duterte, according to his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga sinite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go said in a radio interview when asked about the president’s reaction.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said Sanchez may be disqualified from availing the provisions of the good conduct time allowance law for his alleged violations of prison rules.

The BuCor also assured to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who were convicted of high-profile, heinous crimes or grave crimes that show extreme moral depravity. (RRD with details from correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to visit areas affected by ‘Auring’—Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit areas affected by the onslaught of tropical depression Auring, Malacañang announced on Tuesday (February 23).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in an online briefing said the President wants to see firsthand the damage wrought by Auring and the situation of displaced residents. Duterte will visit the affected areas in the Caraga region accompanied by several members of the Cabinet.

Nograles reported that financial aid has already been given to the residents. He further assured that additional relief assistance will also be provided.

As of February 22, the number of families affected by Auring has reached 28,009. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Gov’t details priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Malacañang has released the government’s list of priority groups for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG) adopted the priority population groups which include medical front liners on the top of the list, followed by senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.

A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.
A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories
B1: Teachers, Social Workers
B2: Other Government Workers
B3: Other essential workers
B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people
B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
B6: Other Remaining Workforce
C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups

For the first tranche of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for healthcare workers will also be distributed to a) COVID-19 dedicated hospitals, b) COVID-19 referral hospitals, c) Department of Health-owned hospitals, d) Local government unit hospitals, e) Hospitals for uniformed services/personnel, and f) Private hospitals. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace reiterates country not lagging in vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday (February 1) said the country is not lagging in the vaccination program for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said only a few individuals have been vaccinated in other Asian countries including Singapore, India, and Indonesia.

Hindi po tayo nangongolelat, kung magsisimula po tayong magbakuna ng Pebrero, halos kasabay po natin ang halos lahat ng karatig-bansa natin. Huwag po tayong magpapaloko sa mga kritikong iyan, wala matinong magawa (We are not lagging behind. If we are to begin vaccination in February, our schedule is almost aligned with our neighboring countries. Let us not be fooled by critics), he said.

Roque also responded to Vice President Leni Robredo’s call to stop the propaganda and focus on COVID-19 response and recovery.

Based on Australian Think Tank Lowly Institute, the country ranks 79th out of the 98 countries when it comes to COVID-19 response.

World Health Organization po ang nagsabi kung nasaan na tayo sa aitng COVID-19 response at ito po ang katotohanan. Bakit namin paniniwalaan ang ibang pag-aaral samantalang lahat tayo ay nagtitiwala sa World Health Organization (The World Health Organization reports where we are on the COVID-19 response and that is the truth. Why would we believe other studies when all of us trusts the World Health Organization), Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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