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Palace dragged in Sanchez controversy

September 05, 2019

Conclusion

The Sanchez controversy had spilled into the halls of Malacañan Palace.

Judge Harriett Demetriou, who called the rape and killing of Eileen Sarmenta and her boyfriend Allan Gomez a crime hatched in hell, has demanded the resignation of Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo, the former lawyer of former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Palace dragged in Sanchez controversy 1

Salvador Panelo

A recent The Manila Times report read: “Judge Harriet Demetriou urged presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo to resign from his post for his involvement in and maneuvering of the aborted release of rapist-murderer Calauan town ex-mayor Antonio Sanchez.”

Considering the circumstances of Eileen’s case, Demetriou should know whereof she speaks. She knows how Panelo performed as defense counsel for Sanchez when she tried the case in 1993. The loyalty that he manifested to his client appears not to have worn off, there being no evidence to the contrary.

As the judge would put it, “Panelo was loyal to Sanchez, I think even until now. So that makes him doubtful as to his loyalty to the Constitution, loyalty to the office as presidential legal counsel… (in contrast to) loyalty to Sanchez as his former defense counsel.”

“It is impossible that Panelo didn’t maneuver the decision to favor his former client given his position in the Duterte administration,” the judge added.

Denial and legalese

Panelo denied Demetriou’s accusations, saying “it was unfortunate that Demetriou has expressed an opinion against me on the basis of pure speculation.”

He sought to acquit himself from the judge’s diatribe by elaborating that Republic Act (RA) 10592 or the “Good Conduct Time Allowance” Law specifically exempts from its provisions convicts of heinous crimes, escapees and recidivists. Clearly, then, seemingly by Panelo’s arguments, Sanchez is right away eliminated from those eligible for early release. The rape-slay of Eileen and the murder of Allan fall under the category of heinous crimes, hence exempting their perpetrators from the relief provided for in RA 10592.

Or is this true?

Panelo should know.

What is a heinous crime?

A colleague of mine who was once the news editor of a leading broadsheet asked me, “What is a heinous crime?”

I was tongue-tied. I have thought all along that the concept of heinous crime has been a well-defined matter, but now that the question is posed at me, I had nothing to say.

For indeed, as my colleague-kumpadre attests to, there is no law defining “heinous crime.”

“In law,” my colleague said, “what is not defined does not exist.”

In this regard, Demetriou seems to have a lot of explaining to do.

According to Panelo, the early release of Sanchez is a matter that is well defined in the law, to be effected through that law’s operation, not through any outside intervention.

“I hope that, being a practitioner of the law, Judge Demetriou will soon realize that expressing judgmental or condemnatory remarks based on a simple hunch has no place in a profession which values the rule of law,” he said.

Said otherwise, that means Sanchez cannot be held accountable for a grievous crime, i.e. heinous, which no law defines. He cannot be disqualified from availing of the relief granted by RA 10592 to those 11,000 Bureau of Corrections prisoners in the process of being released.

At that, I would cite the award-winning performance of Maximilian Schell as a lawyer for Nazi officers charged with war crimes in “Judgment at Nuremberg.” Realizing he was losing the case, he intoned at the end of a lengthy dissertation on the principles of justice: “Not all that’s legal is moral!”

Would that be any consolation for Eileen?

When she showed up for an interview with Mayor Antonio Sanchez that rain-drenched day in 1993, Eileen was on her way to becoming a victim of a despicable crime. She wanted to write about the killing of the Espinosas, but instead, she wrote 30.

Twenty-four years after her death, Eileen’s cries resonate on and on.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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