Tuesday, January 25, 2005                 

SC told: Affirm decision............... on Chiong case
By Grecar Nilles
Sun.Star Staff Reporter

      Believing that convicted Josman Aznar’s additional evidence cannot clear him of the crime, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is asking the Supreme Court to affirm with finality its decision sentencing him and five other men to death.

      In a six-page consolidated comment, OSG’s Alfredo L. Benipayo, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier and Cleto R. Villacorta said the affidavit of former National Bureau of Investigation 7 head Florencio Villarin does not in any way clear Aznar of any wrongdoing.

      “The substance of Villarin’s affidavit is neither helpful much less decisive in the instant case nor encouraging to (Aznar’s) cause,” the comment read.

      “Ironically, Aznar would want to place Villarin on the witness stand despite the fact that this fellow’s affidavit pointed to him as the prime suspect in the hideous crimes against Marijoy and Jacqueline (Chiong),” it further said.

      The Supreme Court (SC) en banc, in a resolution, recently decided to grant Aznar’s motion to present more evidence to support his motion for reconsideration questioning the death penalty imposed on him and his five of his co-accused.

      In another en banc decision in February last, the Supreme Court had raised the penalty imposed by the late RTC Judge Martin Ocampo, from double terms of 20 to 40 years in prison on the seven men to death penalty on six of them and 32 to 57 years on the seventh accused.

      The seven men—Aznar, Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, Rowen Adlawan, Ariel Balansag, Alberto Caño, James Anthony Uy and his brother James Andrew.

                                Spanish citizen
      Earlier, three Spanish bar associations asked the High Tribunal to review the death penalty imposed on Larrañaga, who is said to be a Spanish citizen.

      The OSG said that the first 12 paragraphs of Villarin’s affidavit are “self-congratulatory” allegations, while the last few paragraphs talked about his personal tirades against Thelma Chiong’s alleged influence peddling and the undue promotions of the lawyers and police officers who helped the victims.

          Thelma, who heads the Visayas’ Crusade Against Violence, is the mother of Marijoy and Jacqueline.

SUN.STAR'S story last Jan. 18 on the appeal by three Spanish bar associations seeking a  a  review  on  the  death  penalty  imposed  on  Francisco  Juan  "Paco"  

      “In executing the affidavit, it appears that Villarin would want to impress that he, rather than those promoted, deserved the promotion,” the OSG comment said.

      Aznar also submitted the affidavit of one Vandory Cuico, who alleged that the prosecution’s star witness, Davidson Rusia, had been tortured by policemen in order to testify.

      But the OSG said Rusia could have revealed his ordeal during the trial, but he did not do so.

      “To be sure, there is not a single bit of evidence on record to prove such tall tale even as witness Rusia himself denied such alleged maltreatment,” the comment read.

                          Credible witness
      The OSG said that if Cuico was a credible witness, the defense could have presented him during the trial proper.

      The OSG also said that Villarin’s affidavit was executed on Feb. 27, 2004, or close to seven years after the incident, which all the more “hardly gives credibility to Aznar’s belated hero.”

      “Lastly, there is nothing in Villarin’s affidavit of the quality of a ‘smoking gun’ that would acquit (Aznar) of the crimes they have been convicted of.”

      “Indeed, judging by the substance of his affidavit, he would not be testifying in case a new trial is held on anything that has not been said and rejected heretofore, except his own unsubstantiated opinions, his self-congratulatory remarks, and his unmitigated frustration over failing to get a promotion when almost everyone else did,” the comment added.

                DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                    

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