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The Sarmenta-Gomez Murder and the Mayor
« on: August 23, 2019, 02:46:57 PM »

August 22, 2019

Backgrounder: Eileen Sarmenta Was ‘Gift’ To Mayor Sanchez

As convicted rapist and ex-Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez is set to be released due to a new Supreme Court ruling on good conduct allowances, The Philippine STAR looks back at the controversial case that put him behind bars.

Epi Fabonan III 
Thursday, August 22, 2019

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The March 15, 1995 issue of The Philippine STAR that shows the banner headline “Sanchez Guilty” following the conviction and sentencing of Antonio Sanchez for the killing of Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez. Photo by Epi Fabonan III, The Philippine STAR

As Mary Eileen Sarmenta and fellow student Allan Gomez sat and chatted in the front passenger seat of a Toyota Tamaraw van inside the Agrix Complex of the University of the Philippines - Los Baños campus on June 28, 1993, little did the two know the tragic fate that awaited them.

Both agricultural students at the university, Sarmenta and Gomez just wanted to go home after a busy Monday of classes. But as they waited for the van to fill with passengers, six heavily armed men commandeered the vehicle and took the two students. They were brought to the Los Baños rest house of then Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.

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Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

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Re: The Sarmenta-Gomez Murder and the Mayor
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 02:49:55 PM »

The six men — Sanchez’s nephew Baldwin Brion, brothers Luis and Rogelio Corcolon, former policemen Zoilo Ama and George Medialdea, and Sanchez’s gardener Pepito Kawit — presented Sarmenta as a “gift” to Sanchez.

Sanchez then proceeded to rape Sarmenta while the men tied and tortured Gomez.

After several hours, at around 1 a.m. of the following day, Sanchez emerged from the rest house with the disheveled Sarmenta. He told the six men that he was finished with her and that they could have her. He also told them to deal with Gomez when asked what they should do with the boy.

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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 02:50:19 PM »

The students were loaded back into the van that brought them to the rest house and driven to Barangay Imok in Calauan, where Gomez was killed and dumped on the side of the road.

The men then drove to a sugarcane field in Sitio Paputok, Calauan, where they took turns raping Sarmenta. After the rape, one of the men shot Sarmenta and left her lifeless body inside the van, which they abandoned.

The following day, the bodies of Sarmenta and Gomez were discovered, shocking the sleepy town at the foot of Mount Makiling.

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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 04:23:22 PM »

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo during a press briefing at Malacañang on May 21, 2019. Panelo, who served as Sanchez’s counsel in the Sarmenta-Gomez case, denied involvement in the potential release of his former client due to a Supreme Court ruling on a law increasing good conduct time allowances for convicted prisoners.

From the date the crime was committed, it took authorities 47 days to pinpoint Sanchez and the six men’s roles in the rape-slay of Sarmenta and the murder of Gomez.

It took the testimonies of Aurelio Centeno, the driver of the ambulance that the six men used as the getaway vehicle, and former Calauan policeman Vicencio Malabanan, for the authorities to issue arrest warrants for the perpetrators.

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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 04:23:50 PM »

In their defense, Sanchez and his co-accused tried to pin the blame on professional forger Edgardo Lavadia and Teofilo “Kit” Alqueza, son of police Chief Superintendent Dictador Alqueza, who at the time was being linked to criminal activities.

On March 14, 1995, after a 16-month trial, Judge Harriet Demetriou of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court convicted Sanchez and his six co-accused of raping and murdering Sarmenta and killing Gomez. Each defendant was sentenced to seven life terms and ordered to pay the victim’s families a total of P11 million in actual, moral and other damages.

According to Gomez’s brother, they haven’t received a single cent of damages from Sanchez, which could be a ground for denying Sanchez parole.

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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 04:27:14 PM »

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during a press conference on Sept. 4, 2018. Guevarra announced on Tuesday, Aug. 20, that over 11,000 inmates and possibly including Antonio Sanchez could be released due to a Supreme Court ruling on a law that increases good conduct time allowances for prisoners. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR
 
The case of Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez has come to the fore again, more than 25 years since the crime was committed, after the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Sanchez is one of over 11,000 inmates that could be released in the next two months following a recent Supreme Court decision retroactively implementing Republic Act No. 10592.

The law, which amended Articles 29, 94, 97, 98 and 99 of the Revised Penal Code, increased the good conduct time allowance of inmates, enabling them to reduce their sentences upon computation.

When former president Benigno Aquino III signed the law in 2013, its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) indicated that the law could be applied only prospectively, meaning, in new cases after the law was signed.

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Re: The Sarmenta-Gomez Murder and the Mayor
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 04:28:22 PM »

However, in a decision penned on June 25, 2019 by Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta in the cases Inmates of the New Bilibid Prison vs. Sec. Leila De Lima et al. and Reynaldo Edago vs. Sec. Leila De Lima et al., the SC, in a full court ruling, declared portions of the IRR invalid, and applied its provisions retroactively, meaning, in cases that were concluded before the law was signed.

In both the original and the SC amended version of the law, it excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from coverage, and so it remains uncertain whether Sanchez and his co-accused could actually be granted an early release from Bilibid.

It also remains to be seen if Sanchez is actually eligible for parole on good conduct. In 2010, he was caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu hidden inside a Virgin Mary statue in his prison cell during one of the random inspections. Prior to that incident, he was also caught with marijuana and shabu in his cell in 2006. An air-conditioning unit and a flat screen TV were also seized from his cell during an inspection in 2015.

Aside from the Sarmenta-Gomez case, Sanchez is also serving double life sentences for the murder of Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa in 1991. He was already in prison for the former case when the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s conviction for the latter case in August 1999.

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