Doubts surfaced when convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez, who was also the former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was reportedly hospitalized after recently showing “severe symptoms” of the coronavirus disease.
The high-profile inmate was initially rushed to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital but it was reportedly undergoing repairs, according to spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
He added that its laboratory services are also suspended and the prison’s isolation facility can only accommodate suspected COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms.
Sanchez was then transferred to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa on Monday night but he was denied due to the lack of vacancy.
Chaclag said that the former mayor was brought back to the NBP Hospital but is currently waiting for a vacancy either at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa or in the Philippine General Hospital as the latter still needed to be further checked.
Latest reports said that Sanchez is already “stable” but he showed “severe symptoms” of COVID-19.
Chaclag said that the convict had flu and experienced shortness of breath, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. He added that Sanchez has also been “in and out” of the hospital since December due to hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease.
Sanchez has already undergone swab testing for COVID-19 and is awaiting his result.
Meanwhile, some Filipinos shared their suspicion and doubts over the report that surfaced weeks after nine high-profile inmates have died and were cremated due to the respiratory disease.
“Bantayan dapat ‘to… umii-i-style Jaybee Sebastian 2.0,” wrote a Twitter user in reference to the convict who previously testified against opposition Sen. Leila de Lima in a drug case.
Jaybee Sebastian reportedly died due to acute myocardial infarction related to COVID-19 but there was no autopsy conducted and his remains were immediately cremated as part of the COVID-19 protocol of the BuCor.
Based on the protocol, bodies of those who have been infected with the viral disease should be cremated “within 12 hours to prevent further spread of the infection.”
“Hmmm. May miracle death na naman bang magaganap?” asked a Twitter user in response to reports of Sanchez being hospitalized.
“Tapos mamamatay. Tapos magiging abo na lang. Tapos laya na,” speculated another Filipino.
“HMMMM SUSPICIOUS EH?” another Twitter user commented on Sanchez’s hospitalization.
BuCor caught the public’s attention when nine high-profile inmates were reported to have died due to COVID-19, some reportedly “within days of each other,” raising suspicions that it could be “faked” or a means for convicts to escape.
The deaths were not immediately reported by BuCor and the public was only presented with death certificates, bag of ashes containing the cremated remains and the bureau’s pronouncement.
Some of those who purportedly died include Sebastian, shabu flea market boss Amin Imam Boratong, Chinese drug lord Eugene Ho Chua and Chinese inmate leader Benjamin Marcelo.
BuCor, however, denied the supposed “faking of death.”
“Marami pong nakakakita at napakaimposible pong mangyari. Talagang grand conspiracy dahil it will involve hundreds of personnel. So hindi naman pupwede ‘yun,” Chaclag was quoted as saying in a Laging Handa briefing last July.
The justice department has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the deaths while the Senate is planning to have its own legislative inquiry after the bureau’s investigation.
Meanwhile, Sanchez caught headlines last year when he was reportedly granted possible early release from prison due to good conduct-based deductions to his sentence.
Public outrage over his case prompted the government to revise the internal rules of the Good Conduct Time Allowance which prompted other convicts to return to prison.
Sanchez was convicted for raping and killing former state university student Eileen Sarmenta, as well as killing her fellow student Allan Gomez, in 1993.
He was also convicted for the double murder of his political opponent’s supporter and the son.