In 1993, Mary Eileen Sarmenta's life was cut short when she was abducted, brutally raped, and murdered. She was accompanied by her friend and UP Los Baños schoolmate Allan Gomez, who was also attacked and killed the same night. On March 11, 1995, after 16 months of trial, then-mayor of Calauan, Laguna, Antonio Sanchez, was convicted of both rape and murder, alongside then-PNP Calauan Deputy Chief George Medialdea, Luis and Boy Corcolon, Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brio, and Pepito Kawit.
It was reported that the group of men intended to "gift" Eileen to Sanchez, who was described to be so beautiful that she was "guaranteed to make their saliva drip." Each of the accused were found "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide on seven counts" and were sentenced "to suffer the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua for each of the seven offenses or a total of seven reclusion perpetua for each accused." This meant spending a maximum of 40 years in prison.
In 1999, Sanchez was also found guilty of the murder of Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa, which brings his total sentencing to nine reclusion perpetua. So far, Sanchez has only served 25 years in prison, and there's a chance that he might be getting released soon.
In 2013, former President Noynoy Aquino III signed Republic Act 10592, which introduced new guidelines on good conduct time allowance. Essentially, this law could reduce an inmate's time in prison. On August 20, 2019 Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed in a phone interview with Rappler, "Isa sa mga magbe-benefit doon ay si Mayor Sanchez daw, kasi matagal na rin siyang nakulong, pati siya mae-entitle doon sa computation ng good conduct time allowance (GCTA)."
The following day, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa added fuel to the fire when he told ANC, "[If] it is determined by the Board of Pardon[s] and Parole that [Sanchez] deserved that commutation, then why not?" He continued, "He deserve[s] a second chance in life" because he is "a changed man."
And people were rightfully outraged by the possibility of a convincted rapist and murderer getting out of prison:
Netizens referenced a post by Facebook user Desiree Carlos stating that "the medico-legal report [after Eileen Samenta's body was found] showed that the semen found inside [her] filled a can of sardines." Sanchez and his men took turns raping the 21-year-old.
Celebrities have also used their platforms to speak out against Sanchez's possible "second chance."
Under Antoinette Jadaone's Instagram post, Angel Locsin commented, "Naalala ko 'to. This is pure EVIL. Nakakanginig laman." Angelica Panganiban wrote, "Naalala ko ang mukha ni Sanchez. Nasusuka ko." And Iza Calzado simply said, "KARIMARIMARIM."
There is even a petition to keep Sanchez in prison. The goal is to get 150,000 onboard, and as of writing, 126,000 have already signed: "We petition the Department of Justice to stop Sanchez's release and affirm his seven life sentences. He used his power and position to kidnap, rape, and murder. His actions terrorized a university and an entire town. For full justice to be served, he must remain incarcerated for the duration of his lifetime."
And it looks like the people are being heard. GMA News reported that Sanchez isn't entitled to benefit from the GCTA because he was convicted of a heinous crime:
Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who was once one of Sanchez's lawyers, stated that RA 10592 is "categorical in excluding recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage."
Watch this space for more updates.