Celebrities cry out against Antonio Sanchez's possible early release

MANILA, Philippines – Several celebrities were among those who cried out against the possible early release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez.

In 1993, Sanchez, then-mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was convicted for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta, and for the murder of her boyfriend Allan Gomez.

On August 20, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Sanchez, who has served 25 years of a maximum 40-year sentence, may be released from Bilibid soon under a retroactive law on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) that can slash sentences of inmates jailed in the 1990s by up to 19 years.

Many took to social media to express their dismay at the news, including several celebrities.

On Twitter, singer Bituin Escalante said: "I was in my Freshman year in UPLB when Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez were abducted, dehumanized, and murdered. This case was one of the few times our justice system actually worked and now these monsters in government seek to reverse that," she said, adding the hashtag "#FuckThisGovernment."

In additional tweets, she questioned Sanchez's "good behavior" as the basis for his release. She cited instances of Sanchez violating Bilibid rules, including when shabu was found stashed in a Virgin Mary statue in his cell in 2010, and when guards siezed a television and airconditioning unit in his cell in 2015.

Escalante also pointed out that Sanchez never paid reparations to the families of his victims, or apologized for his crimes.

She urged her followers to sign a petition calling for the DOJ to let Sanchez serve his sentence.

Musicians Saab Magalona and Diego Mapa tweeted a link to the same petition on their timelines.

Model and host Bianca Gonzalez also tweeted about the petition.

"Mas madami namang ibang deserving ng second chance...'yung nagnakaw ng cellphone o de-lata para may pangkain ang pamilya niya.... Madaming kasong ganun sa kulungan, di hamak na mas deserving sa second chance kumpara sa proven guilty na rapist at killer," she said in a tweet.

(There are many others who are deserving of a second chance... (like) those who stole cellphones or canned goods to feed their families.... There are many cases like that in prison...definitely more deserving of a second chance compared to a proven guilty rapist and killer.)

Mas madami namang ibang deserving ng second chance.. yung nagnakaw ng cellphone o delata para may pangkain ang pamilya niya.. madaming kasong ganun sa kulungan.. di hamak na mas deserving sa second chance kumpara sa proven guilty na rapist at killer. — Bianca Gonzalez (@iamsuperbianca) August 22, 2019

In another tweet, Bianca recalled hearing about the news of Sarmenta's rape and murder when she was in grade school, saying, "Dun ko naramdaman at nakita na may kasamaan pala sa mundo (that's when I felt and saw that there was evil in the world)."

Bianca was retweeting director Quark Henares, who, on his own timeline said: "I was in the Seventh Grade when Mayor Sanchez killed Eileen Sarmenta. That’s when I first heard about pedophilia and gang rape, and when I realized the world was not a nice place. I got a physical reaction finding out he was freed."

I was in the Seventh Grade when Mayor Sanchez killed Eileen Sarmenta. That’s when i first heard about pedophilia and gang rape, and when I realized the world was not a nice place. I got a physical reaction finding out he was freed. — Quark Henares (@quarkhenares) August 22, 2019

Actor Edu Manzano also chimed in on Twitter, saying: "Were all the 11,000 inmates also convicted of rape and murder? What don't they get about multiple life sentences?"

Were all the other 11,000 inmates also convicted of rape and murder? What don’t they get about multiple life sentences? #calauanlaguna #heinouscrime — Edu Manzano (@realedumanzano) August 22, 2019

Comedian Ogie Diaz described the news as "Nakakagigil (frustrating)."

"Sumawsaw pa si Sen. Bato na 'deserve ng second chance' daw si Calauan Mayor Sanchez. Kung sa pamilya kaya nila nangyari 'yung ni-rape na si Sarmenta, pinagpasa-pasahan ng 6 pa bukod ke mayor at si Gomez na kasama ni Sarmenta ay pinatay din, ganyan pa rin kaya ang sasabihin nila?" he asked

(Sen. Bato [dela Rosa] even said that Sanchez deserves a second chance. If what was done to Sarmenta was done to their families, that she was raped, and then passed around to 6 others aside from the mayor, and her companion Gomez was also killed, will they still be saying that?)

Director Antoinette Jadaone posted an image on Instagram that said, "No to Sanchez's release," sharing a viral Facebook post about Sanchez's case in the caption.

View this post on Instagram PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ. NAMNAMIN. AT MAGALIT. . (Words not mine. Caption lifted from Desiree Carlos’s public Facebook post.) . You want that former Calauan Mayor Sanchez released? Think again, please. Here are the facts that came out from testimonies and NBI and medical reports immediately after the bodies of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez were found. 1. Sarmenta interviewed Sanchez for a school paper. Sanchez showed interest in Sarmenta. 2. Sarnenta was abducted after the interview while with her boyfriend Gomez. 3. They were brought to Sanchez' place. 4. Sarmenta was RAPED BY SANCHEZ, then.. 5. Sanchez GAVE SARMENTA to his bodyguards 6. SARMENTA HAD ONLY A T-SHIRT ON when Sanchez GIFTED her to his men. SHE HAD NO UNDERWEAR AT ALL. 7. The bodyguards put her inside the back of the van. 8. THEY TOOK TURNS RAPING HER. 9. The bodies of Sarmenta and Gomez were found days after. My fingers are shaking while writing this. My head feels like it is swelling. My hands are clammy.. feeling cold and wet.. clammy.. I can feel the onset of an anxiety attack. Why do I remember these details? I put together or edited 15-20 stories coming from the field from reporters who covered the investigation on the Sarmenta-Gomez rape-slay. I was the deskman handling this story every day for so many disturbing days for me. In one of those afternoons I was putting together all stories for a front page story as deskman of Malaya, I HAD MY FIRST PANIC OR ANXIETY ATTACK. Since then I have had to deal with anxiety attacks. I was diagnosed only a few years ago as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The TRIGGER or the detail that triggered my anxiety attack then: THE MEDICO -LEGAL REPORT SHOWED THAT THE SEMEN FOUND INSIDE EILEEN SARMENTA FILLED A CAN OF SARDINES. VISUALIZE that and KNOW that Eileen, so beautiful and sweet-looking with such a wonderful future ahead of her before she crossed path with the CONVICTED Sanchez , was RAPED by so many men.. gifted by Sanchez to his men. Now, pray tell, you want Sanchez released? — From Desiree Carlos, Facebook post A post shared by Antoinette Jadaone (@tonetjadaone) on Aug 21, 2019 at 4:56pm PDT

Actresses Angel Locsin and Angelica Panganiban sounded off in the comments.

"Naalala ko 'to. This is pure EVIL. Nakakanginig laman (I remember this. This is pure EVIL. My insides are shaking)," Locsin said.

"Naalala ko ang mukha ni Sanchez. Nasusuka ko (I remember Sanchez's face. I feel like vomiting)," Panganiban said.

After the outcry, Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon backtracked and said on August 22 that Sanchez may not be released after all

Faeldon said that the convict's involvement in 'some not good behavior' may not qualify him for release.

"He may not be qualified to go home today or in the next few months. Mukhang hindi sya mapapasok kaagad (It looks like he would not qualify right away)," Faeldon said.

Malacañang also said on Friday, August 23, that after a review of the law, its "inevitable conclusion" was that Sanchez was not eligible for early release. – Rappler.com