Tuesday, May 3, 2005

RP's handling of............. Paco case hit
European NGO says Supreme Court’s..... inaction akin to ‘corrupt practice’

by Suzzane B. Salva

      A non-government organization in Europe has said that the Philippine Supreme Court’s handling of the case of the case of Cebuano Francisco “Juan” Paco Larrañaga, who also holds a Spanish citizenship has been bereft of impartiality.

      In a press release, the Fair Trials Abroad Organization also suggested that the High Court’s dragging its feet on the Paco case was akin to a “corrupt practice”.

      According to Sarah de Mas, FTAO spokesperson in a press release dated March 23, “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 the case, and has continually ignored expert legal opinions in defense of 27-year old Larrañaga”. 

       De Mas added, “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 actuation of the Philippine government, the press statement continued, was not commensurate to the financial assistance and trade investments that the EU has so far poured into the country.

Both presidents of the European Parliament

INACTION? A European non-government organization has hit the Philippine Supreme Court's alleged inaction on requests from EU institutions to hear the defense of Cebuano Paco Larrañaga (left).                            FILE PHOTOS

and the European Union have requested a review of the case of Larrañaga, an EU citizen with  dual Spanish-Filipino nationality, on grounds of “grave procedural irregularities throughout investigation and trial”.  

      “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 presidents of the European Parliament and the European Commission.  

      Paco, who was arrested eight years ago with six others, was sentenced to death in February 2004 after the SC affirmed his conviction for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong----for sometime a celebrated case in Cebu .  

      Despite the defense of Larrañaga backed by his classmates and friends among others, the FTAO said 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 statement further read, obviously referring to the prosecution’s witness Davidson Rusia.

      De Mas said 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. 

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