Wednesday, November 24, 2004 

Cebu scion moved to.... death row, family rue... SC ruling
By Ma. ELISA P. OSORIO
                 Reporter

     The family of convicted kidnapper Francisco Juan Larraņaga has become desperate that the unfavorable ruling against him would not be overturned.

     Mr. Larraņaga was found guilty for the abduction, rape and killing in Cebu of college beauty queen Marijoy Chiong, 21, and her sister Jacqueline, 23, on July 16, 1997.

     In a press conference, Mr. Larraņaga's mother, Margarita, appealed to the media as his son, who has been incarcerated for seven years, was moved to death row yesterday.

     The Supreme Court has denied his family's motion to refer the case to the Court of Appeals.

     "This is a great injustice because my son is innocent. He could not have committed the crimes imputed to him because he was in Quezon City continuously before, during and after the commission of the crime in Cebu," Ms. Larraņaga said in a statement.

     She said a number of Mr. Larraņaga's friends and teachers from the Center of Culinary Arts in Quezon City can attest that Mr. Larraņaga was in a lecture and even took the mid-term examination.

      A copy of the teacher's class records, calendars and student test papers were presented in open court to prove the Mr. Larraņaga's whereabouts.

      At the night of the kidnapping, rape and murder, Mr. Larraņaga was at the R & R restaurant in Quezon City far from Cebu where the alleged crime took place.

      Mr. Larraņaga's mother likewise claimed the trial mmm

court denied her son's request to testify.

     "The court did not even want to hear what he had to say," Mrs. Larraņaga said.

      Instead of just 80 years in prison, the Supreme Court on February imposed the death penalty on the six scions of prominent families in Cebu for the 1997 kidnapping, rape, and killing of the Chiong sisters. (Actually, only two of the six convicted may  be qualified to be said 'scions of prominent families in Cebu'...mike del gallego).

     The six are Mr. Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Wesley Adlawan, Alberto Allan "Pahak" Caņo, Ariel Balansag, and James Andrew "MM" Uy.

     Another appellant, James Anthony Uy, who was 16 years old or a minor at the time the crimes were committed, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape. He was sentenced to 12 to 17 years for simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

                             'TRIAL OF THE CENTURY'
     After a so-called "trial of the century," the six were convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court on May 5, 1999. They were sentenced to two life imprisonments or a total of 40 years each.

     In raising the penalty, the court aid "At times we may show compassion and mercy but not at the expense of the broader interest of fair play and justice."

     "While we also find it difficult to mete out the penalty of death especially on young men who could have led productive and promising lives if only they were given enough guidance, however, we can never go against what is laid down in our statute books and established jurisprudence," the Supreme Court said.

     In a companion criminal case, the tribunal also found appellants guilty of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Marijoy's sister, Jacqueline, and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
                                 DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.
                                                 
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