23rd March 2005


Whilst the EU continues to be one of the largest funders of the Philippines, the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has maintained a 9-month silence in response to letters from the President of the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Both Presidents requested a review of the case of Francisco Larrañaga, an EU citizen with dual Spanish-Filipino nationality, on grounds of grave procedural irregularities throughout investigation and trial.

The Philippine government has been formally alerted today to the consternation of EU institutions creating an embarrassing situation for the Philippine government.

“It should be noted that the Supreme Court of the Philippines has also chosen to ignore international requests to review this case” said Sarah de Mas, spokesperson for FTA.

“Impervious to the gravity of the situation in which a young man has been condemned to death following a police investigation riddled with corruption and a trial filled with breaches of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court has continually ignored expert legal opinion in defence of Mr Larrañaga. There has been no indication of the impartiality or independence that should be the hallmark of all criminal courts. It is high time that the Philippine authorities put an end to such corrupt practice.”

The Case
Paco, 27, was arrested 8 years ago and sentenced to death in February 2004 convicted of kidnap & false imprisonment with homicide and rape of Marijoy Chiong and kidnap and serious illegal detention of her sister Jacqueline. It is alleged that the sisters were gang-raped and murdered. Only one body has been found and when doubts were raised over the identity of the body the Court refused DNA tests.

At the time of the alleged crimes Paco appears to have been 300 kilometres away sitting exams and attending class. There are at least 35 witnesses who testify to this fact. Witnesses range from college administrators, professors, fellow students, security guards. Witness statements are backed up by examination papers, photographs, passenger lists of various airline companies, restaurant bills and various security checks.

However, the court refused to hear these witnesses. Mr Larrañaga was charged and sentenced to death on the statement of one of the co-accused, a drug addict and convicted criminal, who received immunity in return for his testimony.

The EU has been the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) that has flowed into the Philippines in the past decade, overtaking both Japan and the US. Over the period 1990-2001, EU direct investments accounted for nearly one-fourth of the total FDI in the country. EU investments have also increased significantly in recent years, providing an important boost to the Philippine economy during the Asian crisis. In fact, EU FDI surged to an average of € 555 million in 1998-2001. The figures for 2002, however, reveal a significantly smaller inflow of € 100 million. A large potential for enhancing EU-Philippine investment relations thus remains.


NOTE: The Fair Trials Abroad Trust [FTAT] seeks to help citizens from the European Union accused of a crime in a country other than their own, to assert their rights to due administration of justice.


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