Monday, February 14, 2005 
                 
Chiong: Invitation to meeting........ came too late
by Jhunnex Napallacan
     
Correspondent

"WHY ONLY now when it's already too late?"

     This was the reaction of Thelma Chiong to the invitation of Margarita Larraņaga for a meeting, where they could discuss " the possibilities of joining hands in seeking the truth."

     Larraņaga's son, Francisco Juan, or Paco, is currently on death row at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for allegedly kidnapping, raping and killing sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997. 

     In an interview the other day, Larraņaga had hinted that she was open to the idea of meeting Chiong to discuss a possible joining of forces in seeking "truth and justice" for her son Paco, his co-accused, and the Chiong sisters.  

     Chiong said there was no point in meeting with Larraņaga because the case had already been decided by the Supreme Court.

     "It's pointless. What's the point of having a meeting when the case is already over?" she said. 

       In a February 3, 2004, decision, the high court imposed the death penalty on six of the seven accused who had been sentenced to double life terms by a lower court. 

     Paco Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, James Anthony Uy, Ariel Balansag and Alberto Caņo were meted the capital punishment for the death of Marijoy and life imprisonment for the disappearance of Jacqueline.

      Another accused James Andrew Uy, was spared from death row. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for both charges. 

     Chiong said Larraņaga had many chances to talk with her, especially during the course of the trial. 

     If Larraņaga truly believes her son is innocent, she should not have wasted time in calling for a meeting, Chiong said. 

     She said she believed the invitation was a desperate attempt to exonerate Paco. 

     "Maybe it is okay for her that Paco would just be sentenced to life imprisonment (instead of death), Chiong said. 

     She also debunked the possibility that Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal would intervene in the issue. 

     "It's good that we're not meeting. I know in my heart that both of us do not like to talk to each other," she said. 

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
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