Malacañan Palace has quashed speculation ex-mayor Antonio Sanchez, a convicted rapist, could soon be released from prison, saying he is ineligible for early release under a law reducing sentences for good behavior.

Various media outlets had reported the possibility of an early release for Sanchez, sentenced to seven life terms in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, quoting corrections bureau chief Nicanor Faeldon and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo, who had been counsel for Sanchez but denied any hand in the ex-mayor’s possible release, said Faeldon might have overlooked a provision in the law excluding prisoners convicted of heinous crimes from early release.

“A review of Republic Act (RA) No. 10592 or the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), which amends the Revised Penal Code on the computation of the duration of imprisonment based on an offender’s good conduct, reveals that it is categorical in excluding recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from the benefit of its coverage. This is the letter and the spirit of the law,” Panelo said in a statement.

“Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that all those convicted of a heinous crime, including Mr. Antonio Sanchez, would be ineligible and disqualified from [availing themselves of the] benefits of the GCTA,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte was said to have been angered upon hearing the news of Sanchez’s possible release on account of good conduct.

Panelo said public outrage was “understandable vis-à-vis the law passed by Congress during the previous administration and its recent interpretation by the Supreme Court.”

Supreme Court spokesman Brian Hosaka clarified that the tribunal only interpreted the law and ruled that it could be applied retroactively, and did not order Sanchez’s release.

“[T]he implementation of RA 10592 is not within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Like all laws, it is to be implemented and executed by the executive branch of government. Again, the judiciary merely interpreted the law and ruled that it can be applied retroactively,” Hosaka said. (