Filipinos hit Sen. Bato dela Rosa for ‘second chance’ remarks on Antonio Sanchez

August 22, 2019 - 2:50 PM
Bato dela Rosa
Senator Bato dela Rosa was criticized for his statements on convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez who might be granted an early release following a Supreme Court ruling on retroactive application of a 2013 law. (Artwork by Interaksyon/Uela Altar-Badayos)

Sen. Bato dela Rosa stated that convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, who was found in possession of drugs before, should have a “second chance in life” despite advocating for death penalty against drug offenders.

Dela Rosa in an interview said that the former Calauan mayor should benefit from the law if the Board of Pardons and Parole has deemed him qualified for early release following his good conduct time allowances (GCTA) recomputation.

“[If] it is determined by the Board of Pardons and Parole that he deserves that commutation, then why not? He deserves a second chance in life,” the neophyte senator said.

He also cited that he never received any “adverse or derogatory reports” about Sanchez when was still the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief.

“According to corrections officers, nagbait na daw. In fact, nakikita nila na nagpapalda na nga daw. So changed man na talaga siya. Changed man. Bumait na. Hindi na siga,” Dela Rosa added.

In a more recent interview, however, he stressed that he wanted the likes of Sanchez to be sentenced to death but added the “operation of law” must be followed.

“Kung meron sanang death penalty noon edi wala na tayong ganitong issues, tapos na ‘yan, ‘di ba? Dapat ganoong klase, isipin mo napakabigat na offense ‘yun, dapat binitay na ‘yan noon pa para wala nang issue ngayon,” Dela Rosa said.

“But by operation of law, kung na-cover sila sa batas, wala tayong magagawa, we have to follow the law. Hindi naman puwedeng i-separate ‘yan, ‘yung iba gina-grant, porke galit kayo sa kanya hindi na i-grant sa kanya,” he added.

Filipinos slammed him for the inconsistency of his remarks, claiming that he has “double standards” for agreeing to release Sanchez despite the latter harboring illegal drugs in his cell before.

Dela Rosa is pushing for the Congress to legalize death penalty for high-profile drug offenders through firing squad.

Some criticized Dela Rosa for believing that Sanchez, convicted of rape and double murder, “deserves a second chance in life” but has denied the victims of extrajudicial killings a similar stance.

Dela Rosa was the architect of the administration’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign that has claimed thousands of lives without the benefit of a due process as required by law.

‘Best argument for death penalty’ 

Senate President Tito Sotto said that Sanchez’s case could be a “best argument for death penalty” since the former politician has “not indemnified (the) victim’s family” despite being claimed to be eligible for release.

“7 life sentences, no indemnification, hearings for parole did not inform Sarmenta family. Best argument for death penalty?” he tweeted.

Sotto also recalled Sanchez’s case of possessing “shabu” or crystal meth before, which has prompted Filipinos to question the latter’s supposedly good conduct.

Sanchez in 2006 was discovered to have possessed a sachet of “shabu” and a bag of marijuana leaves in his New Bilibid cell following a surprise inspection by the authorities.

By 2010, one kilo of “shabu” worth P1.5 million were found in a Virgin Mary statue he owned. It was alleged that he sold the illegal drug to his fellow inmates as well.

Sanchez also tested positive in a drug test, according to BuCor’s reports.

Bato and death penalty  

When Dela Rosa was running for a seat in the upper chamber, he fervently pushed for the revival of death penalty against high-profile drug offenders.

As he assumed office, he filed Senate Bill 226 that seeks to impose capital punishment on those involved “in the importation and manufacture of dangerous drugs.”

Those who are involved in cultivating marijuana, opium poppy or any other plants classified as dangerous drugs are included in the legislative measure as well, even if it is for “floral, decorative and culinary purposes.”

Dela Rosa added that he prefers the firing squad method for capital punishment, citing that the New Bilibid Prison has enough facilities for it.

“Sa BuCor (Bureau of Corrections), malaki naman ang grounds sa Bilibid. Kung may facility dun for electric chair, meron din sa lethal injection, maglagay tayo ng firing squad range,” he said. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos