Wednesday, November 15, 1998  

 
     ANOTHER student testified that she was at Paco's condominium unit in Loyola Heights, Quezon city from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 16, 1997, talking and listening to some music with two friends.

     Charmaine Michelle Flores, 20, said she volunteered to testify because "I have to tell the truth."

     Flores, whose family hails from Capiz city, is the second witness to testify that the accused was in Manila when the Chiong sisters were in abducted in Cebu city.

     But the prosecution panel was not prepared for her. Flores had not filed an affidavit, not even during the preliminary investigation stage.

     Meanwhile, Margarita Larraņaga yesterday said Thelma Chiong lied when she told the court she saw Paco, Josman Aznar and Rowen Adlawan bring Marijoy home before July 16, 1997.

     She said she was able to tape a radio interview where Chiong admitted not having known Paco before Marijoy and Jacqueline were gang-raped.

     Larraņaga said they requested Malou Guanzon, the interviewer, and station dyRF to certify the recorded interview was authentic so they could present in court.

     "We will present that later on," lawyer Andales, counsel for Aznar said.

     Larraņaga's cross-examination ended yesterday.

     Flores, meanwhile, was asked why she provided her testimony only yesterday.

     "Since you said you and Paco are friends, did it not occur to you to offer your testimony earlier so that you could save him from trial?" asked Prosecutor Ramon Duyongco.

     Flores, who stays in Pasig city, said she tried calling their mutual friends, but failed as she was so busy with her studies in Diliman. Besides, she did not know Paco's phone number here, she said.  

     Flores majors in broadcasting at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She spent her elementary and high school years here since her grandfather lives in Cebu.

     The first time she met Paco, she said, was at the Cebu International School in 1993. She was already a high school junior while Paco, now also 20 years old, was a grader.

     This led Duyongco to wonder why Paco was "several batches below" her at CIS when they are just the same age, or why Flores does not know what grade he was in.

     Flores said she and Paco are both members of the charismatic group Bukas Loob sa Diyos.

     She said Paco's sister called  her last Nov. 15 to ask if she could testify.  It was not the first time she heard about the case, she said, because she already read about the case in the papers before the Christmas break last year.

     Flores said she stared going out with the accused in 1993. They also met at Bai Disco and in Pards.

     But "I don't know him that well," she said when asked when Paco left Manila.

     She herself left for Manila in 1995. They met again in March 1997 after Paco paged her and gave her his phone number.

      They're not that close, "just friends," she claimed.

     Flores' cross-examination will continue today.

     Larraņaga, meanwhile, explained why she believes Thelma Chiong lied when she testified that she saw Paco when he, Aznar, Adlawan and two others brought Marijoy home in 1994.

      Paco and Aznar had not met yet in 1994 because Aznar was not in Cebu at that time, she said.

     "Mrs. Chiong was lying," she said.

     However, when the prosecution pressed Larraņaga to point out what could have been Chiong's motive for implicating her son, she could not give a categorical answer. 

     The prosecution also pressured Larraņaga to name Paco's look-alike if she really wanted to free her son from jail.

     Larraņaga earlier said prosecution witnesses Sheila Singson, Annalie Konahap and Willard Redobles may have mistaken Paco as the one they saw talking with the Chiong sisters hours before they were abducted.

     She refused, however, to name her son's look-alike.

     "Even it would mean saving your son by presenting a look-alike of Paco?" prosecutor Teresita Galanida asked.

     "I would not want to implicate anyone because I don't want other mothers to suffer what I've already suffered because of false accusations against my son," she said.

     "But what would you consider more important, the life of your son or your desire not to inconvenience his look-alike?" private prosecutor Honorato Hermosisima asked during his turn to cross-examine the witness.

     "(It is) my son (that is more important). If only I could offer my life for him, " said the mother.

     Aside from Chiong's testimony, Galanida also confronted Larraņaga about the testimony of Singson, Jacqueline's former co-employee at the Global Village International Learning Center.

     Singson had testified that she saw Paco talking with the Chiong sisters at the Ayala Center's west entry hours before the abduction. Before that, Singson saw Paco twice at the University of San Carlos and twice in Ayala.

     Galanida asked Larraņaga why she, "being a concerned mother," did not approach Singson to correct her testimony if she was positive the witness had mistaken Paco for his look-alike.

     Larraņaga said she was afraid she would be accused of bribery, much like the defense had been accused of trying to bribe star witness Davidson Rusia to retract his testimony.

     Rusia, who has been released after turning sate witness, spent the first day of his freedom yesterday by working for the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

     The prosecution also tried to prove yesterday that their witnesses had no ax to grind against Paco.

     Larraņaga admitted she did not know Thelma Chiong before the crime. She also said she did not know Sheila Singson, Jacqueline's former co-worker.

     As Prosecutor Teresita Galanida focused her questions on Larraņaga's knowledge of Singson, lawyer Teodoro Villarmia objected.

     He explained that Singson testified when the accused had no counsel of choice yet. This was when the original defense lawyers resigned en masse after Judge Ocampo denied their motion to inhibit. OCD/CAM.

NOTE:  1.  RED COLOR OURS FOR EMPHASIS.                                                                                
   2. THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
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