Sunday, May 22, 2005
Support for Paco........................... snowballs in Spain
Jhunnex Napallacan


      Death convict Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga's cause is gaining ground in Spain.

      The Que Magazine in Spain has turned over to the Philippine Embassy in that country the signatures of 120,152 people who are calling for the reopening of the Chiong case. 

      In its report dated May 20, 2005, Que said that the magazine had initiated the signature drive to save Larraņaga.

      Based on the report, the magazine was able to gather 120,152 signatures, which were turned over to Celia Anna M. Feria, the first secretary of the Philippine Embassy in Spain.

      Feria assured Que that she would take charge in informing the authorities in the Philippines about the sentiments of the signatories, who expressed doubts on the transparency of the Philippine justice system.

      It added that Paco's cause has generated "a growing social movement in Spain."

      Larraņaga's mother, said the lower house in Spain, the Congreso de los Deputados, had come up with a statement last Thursday expressing its support for her sons quest for justice.

      The statement was read during a session of the legislature, wherein some members of Larraņaga family in Spain were present.

      Margarita said the Spanish legislature had asked its consul in the Philippines to continue giving assistance so that her son, a Spanish citizen, would be given justice. 

      "The Spanish lawmakers are very concerned about the imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines and in other countries," she said. "They want a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty."

      Margarita said members of the Spanish Congress issued their statement after visiting Paco last April during the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Manila.

      On Feb. 3, 2004, the Supreme Court not only affirmed trial judge Martin Ocampo's verdict but also upgraded the penalty of Larraņaga and his co-accused from double life imprisonment to death.

      The late judge Ocampo had ruled that they had been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and illegally detaining sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong on July 16, 1997.

      A majority of the justices decided to send Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, a scion of the wealthy Aznar family here in Cebu, Ariel Balansag, Alberto Caņo, Rowen Adlawan and James Anthony to the death chamber.

       The seventh accused James Andrew "Wang-wang" Uy, who was minor at the time of the commission of the crime, was meted a life sentence.

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