Wednesday, February 16, 2005  
Ma of Chiong sisters........ unmoved by 'running....... priest's campaign 
Jhunnex Napallacan
PDI Visayas Bureau  

      CEBU CITY--Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes could run all he wanted, all over the Philippines, but for Thelma Chiong, this would not change her belief that justice has already been served for her two daughters after the conviction of Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga and six other persons.

      Chiong said she was not affected by Reyes taking up the cause of Larraņaga because the Supreme Court has already made a decision.

      Chiong said she believed that the high court's ruling convicting Larraņaga did not only affirm the decision of the lower court, but also upgraded the sentence from life imprisonment to death for the Chiong Seven.

      She said it was already final. "(Reyes) does not know what he is talking about. Even if he will run all over the Philippines, I will not be affected. The case is already over. The decision of the Supreme Court was final and executory," Chiong said yesterday.

Cebu run
      Reyes led the families, friends and supporters of the seven convicts in running on some major thoroughfares in Cebu City on Friday morning to bring to the public's attention their call for a re-trial of the case.

      Reyes said he was convinced that there was a miscarriage of justice.

      Reyes said he was convinced that Larraņaga was innocent primarily because there were witnesses who had attested that they were with Larraņaga in Manila during the time the Chiong sisters, Jacqueline, 23, and Marijoy, 20, were abducted in Cebu City on July 16, 1997. He said the witnesses had nothing to gain by coming out, but were never given their day in court.      

      Chiong yesterday lambasted the priest for saying that her two daughters could still be alive, hence justifying his call for the exhumation and DNA testing of the body of Marijoy, which is now buried at Cebu City's Queen City Memorial Garden.

      Chiong said Father Reyes was misinformed, describing his conduct as unbecoming of a priest.

      Chiong said the priest's statements only showed that he did not really know the exact details of the case.

      Chiong pointed out that it was the court itself that had blocked the exhumation of her daughter's body. Besides, Chiong reminded Reyes that the charges filed against the respondents was not murder but kidnapping and illegal detention. 

      That's why, she said, the late Judge Martin Ocampo ruled that there was no need to exhume the body.

      Larraņaga's mother, Margarita, has meanwhile appealed to Chiong to open her mind and listen to them, especially to the seven young boys and girls who claimed that Larraņaga was with them in Manila when the crime happened from July 16 to 17, 1997.

      Margarita said she wanted to meet Chiong in the presence of Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. 

       Margarita said that, as mothers, they must unite to seek the truth.

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