Thursday, February 17, 2005 
                 
SC rejects appeal of....... Chiong accused 
by
JOMAR CANLAS
     
Reporter

      THE Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the appeal for acquittal of one of seven men convicted in the kidnapping of the Chiong sisters in Cebu City in 1997.  

      The full Court denied the motion for reconsideration of Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, seeing no merit in his motion to warrant the reversal of its earlier decision affirming his conviction.  

      Larrañaga, Rowen Adlawan, Ariel Balansag, Alberto Caño, Josman Aznar, James Andrew Uy and James Anthony Uy were sentenced by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court to double life for rape and murder of the Chiong sisters. The Supreme Court raised the sentence to death.  

       The Court gave weight to the arguments of the Office of the Solicitor General to affirm Larrañaga’s conviction.

      Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., a Cebuano, recused himself from the case.

      Margarita Gonzalez Larrañaga, mother of Francisco Juan, insisted to the Court that her son did not rape and kill Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong on July 16, 1997.

      Mrs. Larrañaga said that despite the credible witnesses presented by the defense, the Cebu court and the Supreme Court allowed her son to be placed on death row at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.  

      She said her son was taking his mid-term examinations at the Center for Culinary Arts on Quezon Avenue at the time the Chiong sisters were killed in Cebu.  

      Government lawyers asked the Supreme Court to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by Larrañaga and six other accused.  

      The state lawyers said the decision of Judge Martin Ocampo on May 5, 1999, was impartial and had good and compelling bases to convict Larrañaga.  

      The Court said the argument that the bodies of the victims were never found is not a strong enough reason to acquit the accused. On the other hand, direct testimonies and circumstantial evidence provided a strong basis to convict them.

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