Press Release
September 6, 2019

Drilon urges Guevarra anew: 'File an action to force Sanchez to pay P12-M in damages to Sarmenta and Gomez families'

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon insisted on Friday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should file for an action to force convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez to pay P12.6 million in damages to the families of his victims, Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

"I urge Sec. Guevarra to direct his prosecutors to file an action in court to enforce the judgment against Sanchez, so that the court will issue a writ of execution in order that the Sanchez family will be compelled to pay," Drilon said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel's "Headstart."

"There are decisions of the Supreme Court that say that on principle of equity, if the strict application of the law will result in manifest wrong or injustice, then that prescriptive period can be disregarded," Drilon said.

Drilon, a former executive and justice secretary and four-term Senate President, said that while there is prescription of execution of judgment pursuant to Section 6 of the Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the Supreme Court, in various cases such as in the Heirs of Simeon Trinidad Pieda vs. Bobiles and Bobiles in 2007, allowed for the execution of a final and executory judgment even if prescription has already set in.

In the case he cited, the Supreme Court emphasized the principle of equity and the liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure when a literal and strict adherence will result in miscarriage of justice.

"I do hope that Secretary Guevarra will take it upon himself and do everything is his capacity to implement and satisfy the judgment of the court," said Drilon.

Because of this incidence, Drilon said he is mulling to introduce an amendment in the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law that will require the satisfaction of the judgment rendered, particularly payment of indemnities, before a prisoner could avail of the benefits of the law.

Drilon noted that it is not only the instance where Sanchez did not pay civil damages. The former mayor was also ordered to pay in damages in the killing of father and son Nelson and Rick Penalosa, as well as in another case involving his non-filing of his Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Up to this day, not a single centavo was paid.

"Sanchez' outright intention not to pay the damages to Sarmenta family is not only mere arrogance but an indication of an unjustifiable behavior and disrespect to the decision of the Higher Court," Drilon stressed.

Drilon first raised the issue to Guevarra during the Senate's hearing on the aborted release of Sanchez, where the former mayor's common-law wife claimed that they do not intend to follow the order of the Supreme Court in 1999 that convicted Sanchez and his cohorts and ordered them to pay the victims' families the sum of P12.6 million by way of civil indemnity. The purpose of the civil indemnity is to compensate the family of the victims for the damages and loss that they have sufferred.

The justice secretary was initially opposed to Drilon's suggestion arguing that the period to file an action for the execution of judgment had already prescribed.

Drilon asked the justice secretary to file for an action anyway and allow the court to decide on the prescriptive period "in order to show to the people that the government is serious in its pursuit of justice."

Guevarra eventually relented.

On Thursday, however, Guevarra reverted to his original position that the Department of Justice cannot do anything to force the Sanchez family to pay, citing that the case had long prescribed as a justification.

Drilon said that he was saddened by Guevarra's insistence that his department cannot file for a writ of execution.

"This episode on Sanchez's aborted release, thanks to strong public outcry that prevented it, and the massive 'jailbreak' when over 1,7000 heinous crime convicts were wrongly released, negatively affected the public's perception on our justice system," he emphasized.

Drilon added: "Hence, it is very critical that our succeeding actions will show the Filipino people that we are serious in our commitment to pursue justice."

He insisted that Guevarra must apply the jurisprudence he mentioned if indeed he wants to provide justice.

He also cited the Camacho vs. Court of Appeals case, where the High Court interrupted the tolling of the prescriptive period or deducted from the prescriptive period "when the peculiar circumstances of the case or the dictates of equity called for it."

"I am still hopeful that the DOJ would act in favor of providing justice to the victims by making Sanchez and his cohorts complete their sentence and by exerting efforts to make Sanchez pay the Sarmenta and Gomez families," Drilon said.

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