Monday, July 25, 2005 

Trader says justices...... committed 'errors'
Miguel del Gallego also apologizes for his crusade
By Grecar Nilles
Sun.Star Staff Reporter

      LIKE the families of the men sentenced to death for the kidnapping and killing of the Chiong sisters, businessman Miguel del Gallego refuses to surrender in the fight to clear Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga and six others.

      While admitting that they may have already lost any legal option to save Larrañaga from a possible lethal injection, del Gallego said he will continue to expose the “errors committed by the Supreme Court (SC).”

      One of these errors, he said, was the alleged act of four SC justices of telling members of the Spanish press weeks before the resolution was promulgated last July 21 that Larrañaga and his co-accused were found guilty and that the ruling has already become final.

      He named four justices who allegedly told the Spanish press last July 8 that they have already decided with finality on the Chiong 7’s fate. (Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of the four justices pending their comment on the matter.)

    “I don’t think it was fair for them to do that. I did not tell anyone here in the Philippines hoping that they just made a mistake,” del Gallego said.

      But while he criticized and questioned the High Tribunal’s decision, del Gallego, who maintains a website purposely to raise awareness about the case, apologized to the SC justices for his crusade, saying he is “just trying to save the lives of five innocent young men.”

      The SC en banc recently upheld with finality the conviction of Larrañaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caño, Ariel Balansag, and brothers James Andrew and James Anthony Uy for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape.

      In the recent SC resolution, only the Uy brothers were spared from death by lethal injection.

      Instead, the High Court directed the Office of the Solicitor General to check the claim of James mmmm


JUSTICE, FINALLY. Thelma Chiong leads relatives and supporters in visiting the marker in Tan-aan, Carcar town where the body of Marijoy, one of her two daughters who were abducted, raped and killed, was found. Jacqueline remains missing up to this day. The visit came days after the Supreme Court ruled with finality the imposition of the death penalty on five men who allegedly committed the crime eight years ago.                                               

Andrew that he was a minor when Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were abducted, molested and killed last July 16, 1997.

      James Anthony was only meted a life imprisonment term for being 17 years old at the time of the incident.

      On the other hand, if James Andrew can prove that he was a minor at the time of the incident, he will be spared from a possible death sentence.

      Del Gallego, in an interview, said the recent SC resolution only showed that the justices did not read the legal briefs submitted by the defense.

      “The fact that the SC said in their decision that the exclusion of University of the Philippines professor Jerome Bailen as defense witness because he was an archeologist, not a finger print expert, only showed that the SC Justices did not read their brief,” said del Gallego.

      “That part of the decision only showed that the SC did not know what they are talking about. Bailen was with a team, among them a fingerprint expert in the name of Reynaldo Marcelo,” del Gallego told Sun.Star Cebu.

      Resigning to the fact that there are no more legal options left for them, del Gallego said their only hope now is for the prosecution witnesses to revisit their consciences and to tell the truth about what happened.

      “But we would not approach the witnesses because we might be accused of paying or influencing them. It should come from them. I know they are God-fearing. I hope they realize what they did, and the lives they are sending to death. I hope they would come out to finally tell the truth,” del Gallego said.

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