By: Artchil B. Fernandez
THE Du30 administration got a bloody nose in the Sanchez brouhaha that its hypocrisy is supremely exposed. It bared to the public the treacherous nature of the present administration and its double-talk is becoming more and more apparent.
When (in)Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced that convicted mayor Antonio Sanchez will be released by virtue of Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Allowance Time Law, Malacanang’s immediate response to the outrage it generated was cold neutrality.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the administration is helpless to stop the impending release of Sanchez even as public outrage was growing louder and louder. “[While] the law is there, we cannot do anything. You’ll have to amend. The wisdom of that law, we have to address it to the lawmakers.” He denied having a hand in the looming release of his former client (Panelo was Sanchez lawyer in the gruesome Sarmenta-Gomez murders) emphasizing that “the Palace cannot oppose a law. The Palace can only implement the law.”
Another Du30 minion, Bato de la Rosa, echoed the hypocrisy and double-standard of the present administration. Upon learning that Sanchez is about to be released from prison, de la Rosa backed the move. Asserting that Sanchez is a new person because he now wears a skirt and put on lipstick, de la Rosa declared that he “deserves a second chance.”
Panelo’s insensitive remarks and de la Rosa thoughtless words only fueled public anger on the imminent release of Sanchez. No high official backed Guevarra’s announcement, supported Panelo’s cold-hearted response or agreed with de la Rosa. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. blasted the planned release of Sanchez saying the “law is wrong” and wanted “the shit to be shoot in the head” instead. DILG Secretary Eduardo Año called it a “mockery of the country’s law and justice system.”
A tidal wave of public fury and indignation on the coming release of Sanchez is threatening to inflict fatal political damage to the present administration. Sensing the wrath of Filipinos on its plan “hatched from hell” the Du30 administration was forced to change tune and make a hasty retreat.
Bong Go, a “senator” who moonlights as Du30’s personal assistant and public diviner claimed that his principal was mad about the planned release of Sanchez and blocked it. “He should stop dreaming that he will ever get out of prison,” Go said. Trying hard to copy the antics of his boss, Go publicly told Sanchez “you should pay for your sins there. Your life will be shorter if ever you get out of prison.”
After Bong Go conveyed the cult-god’s wishes, Du30’s men began singing a different tune. “Mr. Sanchez, under Republic Act 10592 is not eligible. So the President as chief enforcer of the law will have to follow the law,” Panelo intoned. Guevarra, in a sudden turnaround, said Sanchez is not walking out of prison anytime soon. “If a person is charged with a heinous crime, not qualified at all,” he stressed.
What happened to the earlier claim of Panelo that Du30 does not interfere in the work of the Department of Justice (DoJ)? Guevarra admitted he received a “request” from Malacañang to stop the release of Sanchez. It is clear here that Guevarra does not really act “independently” and his claim that he is coldly applying the law is false.
Bato de la Rosa also abruptly changed his stand after sensing the depth of public anger and receiving the signal of his master. In a Senate tantrum after a student leader questioned his “second chance” statement, dela Rosa cried he wanted to hang Sanchez and challenged the student to accompany him to jail so can kill Sanchez together.
Du30 and his minions may have escaped the wrath of Filipinos when they immediately aborted the diabolical plan to release Sanchez from prison but they cannot cover up their hypocrisy and double-standard. If Du30 is truly against the release of Sanchez, why did the DoJ on the first place process his release? In fact, Filipinos came to know about Sanchez’ impending release when the DoJ made the announcement.
The family of Sanchez adamantly insisted that the release papers of their patriarch were already signed and he was scheduled for release on August 20. Only public anger and outrage stopped the release according to them, disputing the claim of the administration. The bags were packed they said and the convicted mayor was already fingerprinted as part of the release procedure. Sanchez is No. 187 on the list of prisoners to be freed the family firmly asserted.
“Sir Faeldon, we talked. You said, you promised that you will release my daddy according to the GCTA, for which he was qualified. We believed that my daddy will be among those who will be released,” Allan Antonio Sanchez, the eldest son of Sanchez said. Given the brutal reputation of the administration, the Sanchez family would not be so bold to challenge the administration’s claim if they are not standing on firm ground.
Is it a matter of coincidence that Ruperto Traya Jr., chief administrator officer 3 of the Bureau of Corrections assigned at the Inmate Document Processing Division was gunned down by unknown assailants in motorcycle this week? Traya’s work involved the collating and processing of papers of inmates’ good conduct time allowance or GCTA. The uncanny confluence of events is too hard to ignore.
The Sanchez episode once again unmasked the hypocrisy and double-standard of the Du30 administration. It exposed the fakery of its anti-crime posturing. There are thousands of prisoners who deserve a second chance under GCTA. Most of them are involved in petty crimes done under unjust circumstances. Prioritizing wealthy criminals like Sanchez who committed heinous crimes to benefit from RA 10592 is a clear indicator that the Du30 administration favors the rich and the powerful and is against the poor and the powerless. There is a “second chance” for the rich but only “tokhang” for the poor.