Imelda Marcos asked Duterte to grant Sanchez executive clemency

MANILA, Philippines – Former first lady Imelda Marcos was among those who had asked President Rodrigo Duterte to grant executive clemency to rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, citing his old age and poor health.

Marcos' intercession for Sanchez was mentioned during the second Senate hearing on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law on Tuesday, September 3, where Sanchez's wife Elvira said the family sought letters of recommendation from elected officials to vouch for the "good moral character" of the former Laguna mayor.

Elvira said among those who responded positively to their request was Marcos, who was Ilocos Norte 2nd District representative at the time.

Marcos used her office's letterhead for the letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte on May 29, 2017, seeking the grant of executive clemency to Sanchez. She cited his "advanced age, failing health," and his good behavior in prison, as reflected in his GCTA.

"The addressed circumstances represent a valid attention as regards his behavior, character antecedents, mental and health condition which likewise justify a recommendation for executive clemency. Your utmost consideration on the case of former mayor Antonio Sanchez is highly appreciated," Marcos said in her letter.

Sanchez is seeking executive clemency by way of absolute pardon.

RECOMMENDATION. Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos wrote to the President endorsing Antonio Sanchez's release. Photo from Gordon's office

RECOMMENDATION. Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos wrote to the President endorsing Antonio Sanchez's release.

Photo from Gordon's office

The family members at the Senate hearing on Tuesday also said they got recommendation letters from retired Supreme Court justice Arturo Brion and Laguna mayors and vice mayors.

Elvira also told the Senate panel that she wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte twice – once to him directly, and a second time coursed through former presidential aide and now Senator Christoper "Bong" Go on July 5, 2018. She did not say what became of those requests.

Elvira said the family asked for letters of recommendation to support Sanchez's bid for executive clemency upon the suggestion of Board of Pardons and Parole chief Reynaldo Bayang.

"Nung nag-apply kami sa Board of Pardons for executive clemency ni (When we applied at the Board of Pardons for executive clemency for) former mayor Antonio Sanchez, si Director Reynaldo Bayang asked for recommendation from our friends. That is what we did," Elvira said.

When asked by Senator Richard Gordon, the blue ribbon committee chair,  Dayang said it is normal for families of convicts to seek recommendation letters to support applications for executive clemency.

At the hearing, Bayang did not name the Laguna mayors and vice mayors who had written recommendation letters, but he said that Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo endorsed Sanchez's letter to the BPP. (LOOK: Panelo endorsed Sanchez's letter for executive clemency)

Despite the recommendation of various officials, the BPP denied Sanchez's application for executive clemency in February this year.

Sanchez is serving 9 terms of reclusion perpetua – 7 terms for the 1993 rape-slay of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, and two terms for the murder of a father and son.  

Sanchez supposedly benefitted from the GCTA law after the High Court made the law retroactive, or applicable to cases prior to its enactment in 2013. He was supposed to be released on August 20 but the Department of Justie and the Bureau of Corrections backtracked following public outrage.  (READ: Sanchez's wife learned about ex-mayor's release via 'anonymous' text– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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