Thursday, February 17, 2005
Another setback for..... Cebu rape-slay suspect 

      The Supreme Court has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga, one of the accused in the 1997 rape and killing of the Chiong sisters in Cebu.

      Larraņaga had filed a motion for reconsideration of the SC resolution denying his request to be heard in an oral argument and for the case to be transferred to the Court of Appeals (CA) for further review. 

     The SC said in a two-page resolution that Larraņaga's motion lacked merit. 

     Instead of sentencing Larraņaga to 80 years in prison, the SC imposed the death penalty on Larraņaga and five other young men convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing college beauty queen Marijoy Chiong and her sister Jacqueline.

     Larraņaga's mother, Margarita Gonzalez, said they are already "on the last leg of our quest for justice," since their only hope would be a favorable decision on the main appeal of the SC decision imposing the death penalty on Larraņaga and his co accused.

     The SC denied Larraņaga's motions to have Marijoy's body exhumed and subjected to DNA testing, for their lawyers to be heard in an oral argument and for the case to be referred to the CA for review. 

     The others convicted for the double rape-slay  mmm

are: Josman Aznar, Rowen "Wesley" Adlawan, Alberto "Allan" Cano, Ariel Balansag and James Andrew "MM" Uy.

      Another appellant, James Anthony Uy, who was 16 years old at the time the crimes were committed, was sentenced to reclusion perpetua for the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape. He was also sentenced to a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 17 years for simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

      After Cebu's "trial of the century," the six were convicted on charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention with homicide and rape by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 7 on May 5, 1999. They were sentenced to two 40-year jail terms - reclusion perpetua twice over. 

     In raising the penalty to death, the Supreme Court wrote on its decision: "At times we may show compassion and mercy, but not at the expense of the broader interest of fair play and justice."

     "While we also find it difficult to mete out the penalty of death, especially on young men who could have led productive and promising lives if only they were given enough guidance," the SC said, "we can never go against what is laid down in our statute books and established jurisprudence."

     In a companion criminal case, the SC also found the appellants guilty of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the abduction of Jacqueline, for which they received a separate sentence of reclusion perpetua. 

     While Marijoy has been laid to rest, Jacqueline's body has not yet been found. "What further crimes were inflicted on (Jacqueline) remain unknown and unsolved up to the present," the SC said. 

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