Recent pictures of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez in the New Bilibid Prison surfaced following several unverified claims on social media alleging he was in Calauan for the past “two months.”
Different media outlets shared pictures of the former Calauan mayor in the national penitentiary dressed in an orange polo shirt and slacks with a belt and black leather shoes.
He was also accompanied by other inmates and some officers of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
However, there were some Filipinos who pointed out a few of their observations in the released pictures.
Some claimed that Sanchez, with his appearance, seemed to be enjoying a “special treatment” compared to his fellow inmates who were seen wearing orange shirts instead of a polo and sporting identification cards while he has none.
“Naka-shades, polo shirt (hindi T-shirt), leather belt and shoes at walang ID na nakasabit sa leeg. Wala raw special treatment? Baka nga pinasundo lang ‘yan sa labas eh,” a Facebook user said.
Some also recalled the remarks of Sen. Bato dela Rosa, who used to be the BuCor chief, on Sanchez being a “changed man” as stated by penitentiary officers.
“Akala ko ba nakapalda at naka-lipstick ‘yan, sabi ni Bato,” another Facebook user wrote.
Dela Rosa previously said that Sanchez was already a “calm” person who supposedly wears a skirt and lipstick, although he cannot conclude if it was meant to be a figure of speech or not.
“Tinanong ko mga guwardya dun, nandiyan pa ba yung mayor. Sabi nandiyan pa, sir. Mabait na, sir. ‘Di na siga, malumanay na, changed man na. Nakapalda na, sir. Naka-lipstick. So yun lang ang sabi nila. Ibig sabihin hindi na siga, mabait na,” the senator said.
There are some Filipinos who remain skeptical of the released pictures, claiming it appears to be “staged” for the benefit of the public.
“This looks very staged. And suspicion strengthens when I read that there are some who have seen him in Calauan already,” a Twitter user wrote.
A tabloid website reported that there have been alleged sightings of Sanchez in Calauan since June.
According to them, a taxi driver claiming to be the former mayor’s neighbor has supposedly spotted the convict in town almost every night.
“Driver po ako ng taxi sa Manila at halos gabi na rin po ako umuwi sa Calauan at doon ko nakikita si mayor (Sanchez) na nasa bahay niya ay may mga kausap na mga tao,” he said.
“Marami po ang nagsasabing nakikita nila si mayor kapag gabi sa kanilang bahay, ngunit takot silang magsalita,” the taxi driver added.
Rumors have started to circulate on social media yesterday that Sanchez has been allegedly spotted in his own house at Laguna despite being sentenced to prison in Muntinlupa.
A Facebook user shared a screenshot of a private conversation where the sender of the message, claiming to be a “neighbor” of the former mayor, said that reports of his possible release were “not true.”
The user tagged some individuals working in the media in the hopes to verify the allegations.
“At ‘di po totoong papalayain pa lang siya. Nandoon na po siya sa bahay nila. May mga nakakita na po sa kanya,” the sender wrote.
“Balita nila (two) months na po si Mayor doon. Nakikita po ng mga kapitbahay namin pero siyempre tahimik lang sila po sila. Actually, bago po lumabas ‘yung news na ‘yan matagal na alam namin sa Calauan na lalaya na ‘yan si Mayor Sanchez kasi ‘yun na po ang usapan sa palibot,” the message added.
A Twitter user from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños shared a message from someone claiming to be a former “contractor” in the projects of barangay halls in Laguna for 11 years.
“Hindi siya nakakalaya talaga. Pinapalabas lang daw every (Saturday) ta’s bumabalik din agad sa loob kasi baka nga may magsumbong,” the sender wrote.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra already mentioned that his department would look into the allegations.
BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon, for his part, said that Sanchez is still in Bilibid despite the rumored sightings.
“Relax lang kayo dahil hindi naman siya lalabas. Sasabihan namin kayo kung lalabas pero mukhang hindi siya lalabas. Tatagal siya dito para makalma na tayong lahat,” he said.
Faeldon also said that Sanchez might not be qualified for an early release due to several violations on the latter’s record.
“At the first glance of his records here, he may not qualify for [Good Conduct Time Allowance] because he has many violations… more or less he may not qualify for that because of several violations,” he said.
“He has an incident where drugs were confiscated in his cottage. Although this was dismissed by the court, but as far as the bureau is concerned, that was seized from his kubol. So he’s violated that, so that is also (to) be subject to review,” Faeldon added.