Panelo to file libel raps vs. Rappler, Inquirer for Sanchez case reporting


Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday announced plans to file a libel complaint against two media outfits for claiming that he endorsed the application for executive clemency of convicted murderer-rapist Antonio Sanchez.

Panelo told reporters that he will file charges against the Philippine Daily Inquirer's news site and Rappler over what he believed were malicious reports on his referral of Sanchez family’s letter for clemency to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP).

"Those articles they're reeking with not only irresponsibility but with malice. And it is libelous in nature because it imputes an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor," he said.

The Palace official denied making a recommendation in favor of the release of Sanchez, who was sentenced in 1995 for raping and killing University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and murdering her friend and fellow UPLB student Allan Gomez.

The BPP denied Sanchez's appeal, citing the "gravity of the offenses" the former Calauan, Laguna mayor had committed.

'Don't shoot the messenger'


Rappler said Panelo's move is just a diversionary tactic.

"The libel threat is a pure diversionary tactic on the part of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and spokesperson Salvador Panelo," Rappler said in a statement.

The online news organization pointed out that Panelo previously lawyered for Sanchez and that he allegedly used the power of the Office of the President to endorse the letter of Sanchez's family to the BPP.

It further said that Panelo used government resources when he supposedly met with Sanchez's kin in Malacañang last February.

"If not for the public outcry, Sanchez would have been released last week... Instead of shooting the messenger, Panelo should instead answer questions about his possible conflicts of interest," it added.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, meanwhile, said it will wait for the actual complaint.

" respects Secretary Panelo’s right to sue for libel if he feels aggrieved by the report. We shall refer the matter to our lawyers when he files the suit," said in a statement. — KG/RSJ, GMA News