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Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One Was Antonio Sanchez innocent of rape-murder?

Was Antonio Sanchez innocent of rape-murder?


FORMER Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who is serving seven life terms for rape and murder, will have to stay in prison until he dies.

President Digong wants him to rot in the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa for the heinous crime even if he’s being recommended for parole by prison officials for good behavior.

Sanchez, along with his policemen-bodyguards, was convicted for the murder of sweethearts Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, both students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, on June 28, 1993.

Sarmenta was gang-raped before being shot in the face.

Sanchez is not only suffering the loss of freedom and humiliation of being tagged a convict; his wife also left him with all his wealth and ran away with the family driver.

The former mayor, in whose presence many people once trembled in fear, is now a broken man.

But do you know that up to now he claims innocence of the crime imputed to him?

In one of his unguarded moments, Sanchez told a prison official who had befriended him that it was his son, Allan Jun Sanchez, who did it.

Allan Jun was vice mayor of Calauan town from 2013 to 2016.

Sanchez told the prison official, whose identity I am withholding for the moment, that Eileen Sarmenta was given to Allan Jun as a “gift” by his bodyguards.

Allan Jun at the time had just finished studies in London and the bodyguards wanted to kowtow to him so they would become closer to his father.

How did Sanchez tell the prison official of the deeply held secret?

The former mayor was trying to borrow money from the prison official to support his nurse whom he had impregnated.

Prisoners in at the New Bilibid Prisons — official name: National Penitentiary — in Muntinlupa are given visiting privileges by relatives and people they ask for.

Sanchez had asked for a nurse to regularly visit him to take care of his health.

The prison official asked Sanchez why a very rich man like him should borrow money from a person who was less financially well off.

It was then that Sanchez told the official about the unfortunate circumstances that had befallen him.

“I will lend you money if you tell me honestly if you really committed the crime,” the prison official, who’s now retired, said he asked Sanchez.

And that’s when Sanchez confessed and pointed to his son as the real culprit.

He told the prison official that he thought that since he was innocent he would be acquitted.

Sanchez believed the Virgin Mary was on his side, so he would not be convicted.

I recall that when I interviewed him in 1993 for a television show, “Action 9,” which I co-hosted with Dong Puno and Rey Langit, he mentioned that he was a devotee of the Blessed Mother.

The mayor’s name had cropped up as among the suspects in the twin murder with rape but he had yet to be arrested.

The interview took place in his mansion.

I saw an altar with the image of Mary prominently displayed on it.

I asked him jokingly if he would pray to the Blessed Mother before he would have some criminals executed — “salvaged” is the local slang term for it — for disturbing the peace in his town.

His answer flustered me: “I always do. And Mama Mary always says yes.”

And you will ask why I asked that question: Because Sanchez was feared in his time for killing people who crossed him.

A jueteng lord in his town and nearby towns in Laguna, Sanchez maintained almost a hundred armed bodyguards, some of them town policemen.

Policemen or National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents who would arrest jueteng collectors or raid jueteng dens in his town would go in full force complete with armored cars fearing armed resistance.

Sanchez, as a general of the defunct Philippine Constabulary described him, was a warlord.

In his residential compound was a barrack and mess hall that could accommodate 100 people or more at any one time.

Most of his men went around Calauan town armed with high-powered M-16 and M-14 rifles and Uzi machine pistols.

Sanchez was so feared that top police officials at that time who were ordered to raid his town for jueteng would first inform him of the impending raid. Most of them were on his payroll.

One never crossed the mayor and got away with it.

For example, the manager of the Hidden Valley resort in Laguna was shot dead by his bodyguards after he insisted that Mayor Sanchez was not allowed to park his car in front of the cottage he and his family were occupying for the night.

The mayor went scot-free after he paid off the family of the murder victim with a hefty sum.

There were stories that the mayor, who is said to be “AC-DC” — slang lingo for bisexual — would sometimes order his bodyguards to look for prostitutes when the male beast in him surfaced.

After satisfying his lust, so the stories went, Sanchez would order the whores killed and buried in his vast pineapple plantation.

So, why was Sanchez convicted for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and her boyfriend, Allan Gomez, when — if he is to be believed — he was innocent?

The answer to that is karmic justice.

The universe has a unique way of exacting justice on people who committed wrong against their fellowmen.

Sanchez may have been innocent for that particular crime for which he was convicted, but the universe exacted justice on him for his other crimes.

* * *

One of those who was convicted along with Sanchez was George Medialdea.

Medialdea was the chief of police of Calauan at the time the abominable crime was committed.

Medialdea is not a common name like Santos, Cruz or Reyes.

I’m not implying anything — I swear! — but is he related to Executive Secretary Salvador “Bingbong” Medialdea?

Is he also being recommended for parole like Sanchez?

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