SC clarifies order to release Ex-Mayor Sanchez didn’t come from them

Maris Federez   •   August 23, 2019   •   402

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has clarified that the order to release former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez from prison did not emanate from them.

Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Bryan Keith Hosaka said the high court only issued its interpretation of Republic Act 10592 which increased the good conduct time allowance given to prisoners.

The high court ruled that the said law can be applied retroactively, which would include the case of the former mayor.

“First the Supreme Court did not order the release of Mayor Sanchez in its recent decision in the consolidated cases.  Like all laws, the implementation and execution of RA10952 is left for the executive branch of government, again, the judiciary or the supreme court only interpreted RA10952 and ruled that it can be applied retroactively,” Hosaka said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said that they have asked the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to draft clearer guidelines as to who can benefit the credit time allowances to inmates.

Guevarra added that it will be very timely for Congress to scrutinize the implementation of the said law.

 “We have requested the Bucor through Faeldon be very clear about the guidelines kasi mukhang di pa maayos na maayos ang mga guidelines diyan [because it seems that the guidelines are not yet clearly defined]. So, this is an opportunity for the Bucor to make clear mga [the] guidelines,” said Guevarra.

Meanwhile, a group of women on Friday staged a protest in front of the Department of Justice against the impending release of Mayor Sanchez who was convicted for a rape and murder of two UP Los Baños students.

Lisa Maza, leader of Gabriela Alliance of Women said, “Ito ay isang pagsalaula sa ating justice system. Malinaw po na marami din siyang paglabag na ginawa noong siya ay nasa kulungan kaya hindi siya karapat dapat na lumaya [This is a derision to our justice system. It is very clear that he had committed a lot of violations while serving time in prison that is why he doesn’t deserve to be set free].” (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

SC affirms Sandiganbayan’s decision to convict Sabio for graft

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2019

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s decision to convict former Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) Chair Camilo L. Sabio for violations of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This was after Sabio filed a petition for review on certiorari to question his conviction by the Sandiganbayan. Sabio has claimed immunity from suit for being the president’s alter ego.

The SC has ruled that immunity from suit does not cover presidential alter egos as they junked the petition of Sabio.

“As correctly ruled by the Sandiganbayan, Sabio’s acts unmistakably reflect ‘a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will,” the SC said.

In a 10-page decision promulgated on July 15, 2019, the SC said Sabio cannot claim immunity from suit by being the president’s alter ego.

“It was the PCGG, through Sabio and his Commissioners, not the President, who entered into the subject lease agreements without the requisite public bidding,” the decision states.

“The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser,” the decision added.

The graft case filed against Sabio stemmed from the lease of 11 motor vehicles entered into by the PCGG without the required competitive bidding.—AAC

JBC resumes public interview of applicants for SC posts

Maris Federez   •   September 9, 2019

The applicants for the soon-to-be-vacated posts in the Supreme Court (SC) went through the close scrutiny of the members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), as day-2 of the public interviews resumed today.

Among the applicants who waited in line were Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Atty. Jeremy Gatdula and Atty. Cesar Villanueva.

The soon-to-be-vacated positions in the Supreme Court are that of Associate Justice Francis Jardaleza who is set to retire on September 26, and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who will be retiring on October 26.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, on the other hand, will also be retiring on October 18.

The JBC will start conducting public interviews on applicants who will be vying for the position of chief magistrate of the Supreme Court on October 2. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

More convicts freed under GCTA law surrender to authorities

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – More convicts freed under the Republic Act 10592 that expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for inmates have surrendered to authorities following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order.

Data from the Philippine National Police show that as of 12 a.m. of Sept. 5 (Thursday), at least 13 convicts have turned themselves in on the second day of Duterte’s 15-day period.

Of this number, five were convicted of murder, three of rape, two of robbery with rape, one of murder and robbery, one of attempted rape with homicide and one of illegal drugs.  

They are now under police custody after surrendering to authorities.

Duterte earlier ordered convicts, especially those who were involved in heinous crimes, freed under the GCTA law to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police station or to the military.

The president told them to submit themselves for investigation to recompute their good conduct credits.

Duterte warned they will be treated as fugitives from justice, if they fail to comply.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier said police will arrest GCTA beneficiaries who will not surrender as ordered.

They will also track their movement and bring them back to jail after the deadline.

The RA 10592 was passed and signed in 2013 during the time of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III. Last June 2019, the SC ruled that the law could be applied retroactively.

Since the law’s enactment in 2013, more than 22,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released due to good conduct credits, 1,914 of which had been convicted of heinous crimes, based on BuCor data.

But some quarters insisted that the release of some of these convicts was invalid as they do not qualify for the policy.

The GCTA law has recently been placed under scrutiny following reports that convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived of liberty who are eligible for early release for good behavior

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez. He has been in jail for 25 years for seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

This controversy has led to allegations of corruption and ‘GCTA for sale’ in the national penitentiary involving some Bureau of Corrections employees.

READ: GCTA for sale? Witness claims ‘paying’ BuCor officers for husband’s early release

Due to the controversy, the implementation of the GCTA rule has been suspended until further notice.

Duterte also fired Nicanor Faeldon as BuCor chief, and the Office of the Ombudsman launched an investigation into the matter.


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