Sunday, November 28, 2004

SC throws out............... 
Paco's motions

by Suzzane B. Salva

     The Supreme Court (SC) junked all motions filed by the "Chiong 7" who are seeking a new hearing of their case, clearing the way for judgment day.

     The court rejected the last motions filed by Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga and company requesting for an oral argument, the referral to the case to the Court of Appeals and the exhumation of Marijoy Chiong's remains for a DNA examination.

     The motions were all thrown out last September 21.

     The SC, which not only affirmed the findings of the lower court last February, but also upgraded the penalty from double life to death, said it found the motions without merit.

     With the denial of all the motions, the SC is left with only one pending issue to resolve: The motion for reconsideration on its February 3 en banc resolution affirming the late Judge Martin Ocampo's ruling of conviction.

     Larraņaga's family and supporters called a press conference last Tuesday in Makati.

     "We are trying to reach as many people as we can and tell them that my son, Paco is innocent of the charge," said Paco's mother, Margarita. 

     During the press conference, Cebuano businessman Juan Miguel del Gallego announced that the efforts to get pubic support for the Chiong 7 "have gone international."

     Del Gallego made a reference to the "Unheard 35" the 35 witnesses who were not allowed by Judge Ocampo to testify in court.

     Del Gallego has created the website devoted to the crusade to free the men convicted of abducting Marijoy and her sister Jacqueline on July 16, 1997.

     "If local people (Cebu) will not believe us, then we will go international. I will continue until I die to get justice for these young men," del Gallego said.

     His three children were among the witnesses who vouched that Larraņaga was in Manila when the sisters were abducted, raped and murdered.

      The sister's mother Thelma Chiong, belittled del Gallego's crusade.

     "The international support will not touch the decision, walay labot ilang balaod sa atong balaod diri sa Pilipinas (Foreigners have nothing to do with our laws). I am not worried about it, not a bit," she told Cebu Daily News last night. 

     Chiong said that since the SC had spoken, "I am confident that the decision will stay as it is."

     "There is no use in questioning the SC decision. I am happy that all their motions are denied. Our efforts, hardships and prayers have been answered," she added.

     "The families of the convicts must learn to accept the harsh reality," Chiong said. Her one wish for Christmas: "Tell us where Jacky is."

     Among the international groups supporting the move to free the "Chiong 7" is the Fair Trials Abroad Trust (FTAT), a European Union Non-Government Organization established in 1994.

     The FTAT wrote as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in support of Larraņaga's motion for reconsideration. The group requested the SC to hold oral arguments.

     The group seeks to help European Union citizens accused of a crime in a country other than their own. Larraņaga has dual citizenship. He is both a Spanish and Filipino national.

     It urged the SC to quash both Paco's conviction and sentence.

     Aside from FTAT, the Madrid Bar Association, Basque Bar and Barcelona Bar also had made their stand for Larraņaga, which the Spanish Consul in Manila submitted to the SC.

     The SC refused to accepts their briefs.

     No less than European Parliament Patrick Cox reportedly appealed to the Philippine president for a fair trial of Larraņaga.

     "I appeal to you, therefore, to use your good offices to have this sentence reviewed. Not only because the death penalty is abhorrent to European values and does not reflect the respect for human dignity and human rights of a modern nation but also because of what I understand were serious procedural and other irregularities in the trial proceedings," Cox said in a letter.

     Aside from Larraņaga, also sent to the death row are Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caņo, Ariel Balansag and James Anthony Uy.

     James Anthony Uy's brother, James Andrew, was spared from the death penalty for being a minor. He was slapped with two life sentences.

                                 DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                       

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