Drama, lies and letters

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

SANCHEZERYE, the latest telenovela gripping the country has a new twist this week.  Every week there are new revelations in this saga involving the release of criminals who committed heinous crimes which keeps the nation glued to Malacañang.

Last week, an “angry” Du30 stopped the impending release of convict Antonio Sanchez (found guilty of committing double murders and rape) in the face of mounting public outrage, according to his public diviner and interpreter, Bong Go.  Bong Go made it appear his principal is the hero of the hour, the one who stopped the monster from being released to the general populace.

Du30’s minions were also vehement in their denial of any involvement in Sanchez’s aborted release last week.  Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on several occasions declared he had nothing to with the planned release of his former client (he was Sanchez lawyer in the Sarmenta-Gomez case).  BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon also said he had not authorized the release of Sanchez.

If above officials have nothing to do with the Sanchez brouhaha, who orchestrated in the processing of his release papers?  Sanchez’s family forcefully insisted he is No. 187 on the release list and had already undergone release procedure.

Who has the guts to execute the diabolical plan to release Sanchez?  This is the question that boggles the public.  A minor functionary in the bureaucracy will not dare to hatch such a scheme considering the gravity of the case and the people involved.

Senate hearings on the controversy have shed some light on the case and unraveled the mystery behind the botched plan to release Sanchez from prison under RA 10592 or the Good Conduct Allowance Time Law despite not covered by it.  Senate investigation is peeling away the layers of lies covering the case and is unmasking the drama of the personalities involved.

Under the grilling of senators, Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) executive director Reynaldo Bayang revealed that Panelo sent a letter to him dated 26 February 2019 on behalf of the Sanchez family.  It is now clear Panelo is not innocent as he wants the public to believe.

Panelo’s response was to engage in hairsplitting.   He sent to Bayang a referral letter not a letter of endorsement. “Referral of the letter asking for executive clemency to the appropriate authority is not recommendation,” Panelo said.  Panelo may engage in wordplay or even resort to hermeneutics to extricate himself from the mess but it is clear he did something (referral/recommendation) on behalf of the Sanchez family.

In Philippine transactional politics, a referral/recommendation from the congressman/governor/mayor is a must if one wants to work in government.  Panelo’s letter written in government stationery with the Office of the President heading carries the weight of the office.  He even placed his official designation (presidential spokesperson and legal counsel) as sub-heading to emphasize the power behind the referral/endorsement.  The referral/endorsement is made “in line with the President’s commitment to good governance” Panelo wrote.  No amount of semantics can cover up Panelo’s complicity.  His fingerprints are all over the Sanchez mess.

BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon washed his hand on the aborted release of Sanchez.  When confronted by a release order of Sanchez with his signature, Faeldon like Panelo engaged in wordplay.  “There is no order yet to release… As far as the ex-mayor is concerned, there is a memorandum of release recommended for his release,” Faeldon claimed.  BuCor Director Maria Fe Marquez contradicted Faeldon.  “My best understanding is that it is a release order.  A memorandum to release,” Marquez stressed.

Panelo’s letter and Faeldon’s release order which are now made public reveal they are lying when they declared they had nothing to do with the Sanchez mess.  They are feigning ignorance, creating a drama to deceive the nation.

Curiously, a letter dated 29 May 2017 addressed to Du30 was sent by Imelda Marcos appealing for executive clemency for Sanchez.  Imelda Marcos was convicted of seven counts of graft and is sentenced to 70 years of imprisonment.  Two years ago, Du30 is already aware that there is a move to release Sanchez from prison.  The role of Imelda Marcos is interesting since Du30 admitted the Marcos family contributed to his candidacy.

To appease public wrath on the planned Sanchez release, Du30 fired Faeldon this week.  “He disobeyed my orders,” Du30 said.  “I only obey order,” Faeldon cryptically responded to his sacking.   But what was exactly Du30’s order?

If there is a standing order from Du30 not to release Sanchez and those involved in heinous crimes, why did Faeldon process their release?  Isn’t he a soldier that only obeys order?  Is Du30 really clueless about the release of Sanchez?  There was the letter of Imelda Marcos and the referral/recommendation of Panelo using his office official stationary.  He was not aware of these?  Are his underlings hiding something from him or keeping him blind?  Is he in control of his administration or people under him doing things on their own?

Now, Du30 finds himself in a hilarious and highly embarrassing situation.  After his people processed and released 1,914 heinous crimes convicts, he is ordering them to surrender and return.  Du30 declared they will be considered fugitives if they do not come back and threatened them with a shoot-to-kill order.  He would have been spared of this very awkward situation had he and people under him been circumspect, prudent and careful in applying RA 10592.  Management by Laban o Bawi?

But behind the high drama are lies and deception.  Was Du30’s anger mere acting and the firing of Faeldon just a charade?   Was the principal really ignorant or the real mastermind?  Were some underlings sacrificed to save the king?   The truth will eventually surface and no amount of falsehood, trickery, and theatrics can suppress it.