Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said his “conscience is clear” following his admission he met with the family of rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez and referred the clemency plea to the parole board for evaluation.
The President maintained that he did not recommend or endorse any grant of clemency for Sanchez, saying he merely forwarded the family’s appeal to the concerned government agency.
“Unang-una, malinis ang konsensya ko. Pangalawa, 27 years ago pa hindi ko siya nakikita so ordinaryo sa akin lahat ‘yun. Kung sino ang lumapit sinasagot ko,” he said in an interview with reporters at the Palace.
“It was not a referral letter to act favorably. The letter speaks for itself. It was an ordinary referral to them to do something about the request. That’s for them to decide. We have nothing to do with it,” he added.
Earlier, Board of Pardons and Parole executive director Reynaldo Bayang told a Senate hearing that Panelo wrote to the board about the application for clemency of Sanchez. Panelo was a former defense counsel of the ex-Calauan, Laguna mayor convicted of rape and murder in 1993.
Panelo later clarified he merely forwarded the family’s request to the parole board and did not intervene. He confirmed though that he met with the family of Sanchez at his office in Malacañang after they asked for help for the grant of pardon via email.
The Palace official, however, brushed aside speculations that his referral letter was a form of intervention to secure the release of his former client.
“In the first place, may name does not carry a weight because precisely the President’s policy to all of us, paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi, walang sacred cow ditto,” Panelo said.
He added that in the Duterte administration, “there is no such thing as influential person to the President.”
“The President is very strict on just follow the law, whatever the law. Precisely his instruction is: to respond to all letters regardless, hindi kayo dapat mamili, kung sino sumulat, tulungan natin, i-refer ninyo sa mga appropriate agency. Bahala na iyong appropriate agency kung dapat tulungan o hindi,” he said. (Genalyn Kabiling)