Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday denied any hand in the looming release of a town mayor convicted in the 1993 murders of two University of the Philippines Los Baños students.

Panelo, who had been counsel for the mayor of Calauan, Laguna, Antonio Sanchez, said he withdrew as lawyer for the convicted rapist 27 years ago.

“I withdrew 27 years ago, I don’t think I’m in any position to make any comment,” he said.

“Second, as correctly pointed out by [Justice Secretary Menardo] Guevarra, no one needed to intervene or work for his (Sanchez’s) release because there’s already a law that will benefit Mr. Sanchez and 11,000 others,” he added.

“If the law as it is crafted says that all the inmates who are qualified [are] to be released, then that’s what the law says and we have to, as we always repeatedly say, there is the rule of law and we have to abide by the rule of law.”

Panelo said he no longer had any communication with Sanchez, and was happy for the ex-mayor.

“I wish him well, like other lawyers whose clients were imprisoned. Of course, you will be happy for them, they will have a new life after the release,” he said.

Guevarra earlier said Sanchez was among thousands of inmates whose sentences could be reduced under a new law that caps prison sentences to three times the worst penalty but not exceeding 40 years.

Sanchez, convicted in 1995, could also benefit from time allowances resulting from good conduct in prison. (