Monday, March 8, 2004 

Chiong convict files....... plea with SC
By Joel R. San Juan

      ONE of the six convicts in the celebrated Chiong rape-slay case has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on February 3, to raise their sentences, from two life terms to death by lethal injection.  

      In a 74-page motion for reconsideration, Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga also asked the Court, through his lawyer, William Chua, to allow him to either orally argue his case before the Court en banc or to order the retrial of his case. 

      “We submit that in the case at bar, a case described by this Court as Cebu’s trial of the century, the criminal justice system was so influenced by the gruesome allegations, the attendant publicity, the inevitable politics and so many other untold factors, that the judge molded the facts and law to reach a publicly acceptable, but unfair and unjust result,” Larrañaga said. 

      Larrañaga and Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caño, Ariel Balansag, James Anthony Uy and James Andrew Uy were sentenced to two life terms by Judge Martin Ocampo of Cebu City RTC on May 5, 1997, for the kidnapping and rape of the Chiong sisters, Marijoy and Jacqueline, in July 1995. 

      On February 3, the Court affirmed the guilt of all the seven accused but raised their sentences to death. 

      Andrew Uy, who was only 16 at the time of the commission of the crime, was spared from lethal injection as the Court upheld the two life terms imposed on him. 

      In seeking his acquittal, Larrañaga asked the Court to review the records of the case which would purportedly show that he was denied his right to stand as witness for himself. 

      Larrañaga said he was barred by the lower court from testifying despite his openly declared willingness to testify. 

      Such fact, Larrañaga argued, would have merited a mistrial.

      “He was not allowed to personally answer the charges laid against him. He was not allowed to reply to any question material to his case,” the petition said. 

      Larrañaga also lamented the court’s objection to the presentation of Florencio Villarin, National Bureau of Investigation regional director, as a witness for the defense. 

      Larrañaga claimed that had the court allowed Villarin to testify he would have destroyed the prosecution’s story concerning his involvement. 

      The petitioner said that based on NBI investigation the house where the rape purportedly occurred on July 16, 1997, was a boarding house, occupied by several residents. 

      Also based on the investigation of Villarin, the prosecution’s witness, Sheila Singson, never mentioned seeing Larrañaga talking to the Chiong sisters before their disappearance. 

      Another witness, Davidson Rusia, according to Larrañaga, refused to undergo a lie-detector test and was never allowed to be interviewed by the NBI. 

      Larrañaga also accused the police of planting evidence to prove the allegations against him. He also stressed that the lower court disregarded the testimony of his classmates at the Center for Culinary Arts that he was in Manila when the incident happened. 

      Larrañaga said he entered the culinary school in Manila on June 16, 1997, or a month before the killing of the Chiong sisters. 

      “A single classmate would have easily debunked such an alibi. Yet, the prosecutors cannot produce anyone from the class to state otherwise,” he said. 

      Larrañaga also noted that the lower court failed to consider the testimonial and documentary evidence provided by airline personnel, airport officials and a fellow passenger who was with him on a July 17, 1997, late afternoon flight from Manila to Cebu. 

      “On the basis of the foregoing, we submit that accused Larrañaga should be acquitted and set free. We submit that, at the very least, he deserves a retrial under fair and impartial circumstances,” Larrañaga’s lawyer said.

                             DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                     

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