Sunday, July 24, 2005 

'Miscarriage of justice' 
By Jhunnex Napallacan 

      "A miscarriage of justice."

      This is how former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 director Florencio Villarin describes the high court's decision sentencing Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga and four other persons to die by lethal injection for kidnapping the Chiong sisters in 1997.

      Villarin alleged that the trial court judge and the prosecutors who handled the case had committed "fatal errors" that the Supreme Court glossed over.

      "The Chiong case was haphazardly investigated, but was still filed in court," he said.

      Villarin said the prosecutors did not wait for the NBI to complete its findings "because they wanted to get a promotion."

      Members of the victims' family got carried away by their emotions and the prosecutors pushed the case because all wanted immediate results, he said.

      "Maluoy kaayo sa hustisya (Have pity on justice). Our justice was raped in that case, which resulted in an outrageous miscarriage of justice," Villarin said.

      "I hope that the Chiong family and even former city prosecutor Primo Miro are able to sleep soundly at night after what they have done to this case," he said.

      Raymond Garcia, meanwhile, thinks the SC decision was really an injustice to Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga, one of the convicts.

       Garcia, son of former Mayor Alvin Garcia, testified during the trial of the case that Paco was with him and other friends in a Quezon City bar on the night of July 16, 1997 when sisters Mary Joy and Jacqueline Chiong sisters were abducted in Cebu City.

          To prove this, he showed photos that he took of that night-out showing Paco with his friends. The late Judge Martin Ocampo, however, doubted the authenticity of the photo, saying it could have been tampered with.

          He admitted, however, that he was not surprised by the court's verdict because "the Supreme Court normally does not consider a second motion for reconsideration unless there is an intervening event."   

      Even if the SC has ruled with finality, Garcia believes there is still hope for the convicts.

      "Their fate depends on a presidential pardon or the diplomatic channel. Perhaps the Spanish government can do something about this," he said.

      Paco, whose father is a Spaniard, enjoys dual Filipino and Spanish citizenship.

      Margarita Larraņaga, Paco's mother, is hoping that new evidence would come out before her son is executed.

      "Maybe, we can ask for an executive clemency without necessarily admitting that my son is guilty," Mrs. Larraņaga said.

      Thelma Chiong, the victims' mother, said it is Mrs. Larraņaga's right to seek a presidential pardon or clemency to save her son.

      But she expressed confidence that the president would not intervene in this case.

      "The President is very aware of this case. Besides, people all over the country know what the Chiong 7 did to my daughters." 

                                  DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                        

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