Tuesday, November 15, 2005  

Two brothers in '97 Chiong rape case were innocent  
by Chito O. Aragon


      In his wheelchair, half paralyzed by a stroke, retired Cebu City policeman Roy Codiņera yesterday said he wanted to unburden his conscience.

      He told Cebu Daily News as one of the key investigators in the 1997 Chiong case, he knew that at least two of those convicted of the capital crime of rape and abduction -- brothers James Andrew Uy and James Anthony -- were innocent.

      "If there is a priest to save a sinner, then I am here to save a teenager from the death penalty," the ex-policeman said. 

      He was referring to James Andrew, who is on Death Row, unlike the younger brother whose minor age drew him a life sentence.

      Codiņera led the arrest of the Uy brothers in Cebu City based on a court warrant seven years ago.

      But yesterday he said he couldn't sleep knowing that the names of the Uy brothers were just inserted in the record of the extra-judicial confession of star witness Davidson "Tisoy" Rusia, whom he had interviewed while in police custody.

      Who changed the record or why, he couldn't say.

      Codiņera showed CDN a photocopy of the document he keeps on file of other court records of the Chiong case.

      He pointed to the portion where the names of the Uy brothers were manually typed into the text of the computer-generated report.

      "Giapas ra ang ngan nila (The names were merely added)". Codiņera said. 

      Codiņera who belonged to the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Division (CIID) of the Cebu City police, arrested the Uy brothers in 1998 on the strength of a warrant of arrest. The court issued the warrant after Rusia implicated sevral alleged companions in the abduction and rape of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong.

      The girls were forced into a car outside the Ayala mall and disappeared. The body of a young woman, later identified as that of Marijoy Chiong's, was found at the bottom of a ravine in Carcar town. Jacqueline has never surfaced.

      Codiņera suffered a stroke just after retiring from the police force in late 2003.

      Yesterday's interview took place in his residence, a government housing project in Nivel Hills where he spends most of his time because of his poor health.

      'Ako'y (I was) lead operative sa (in the) CIID, ang (the) records gi-forward (I forwarded) to CIDG, I was haunted by my conscience, Dili katulog, usahay naay gabii dili ko katukog (Sometimes, there are nights I can't sleep)', said Codiņera.

      Codiņera caused a stir last week when he showed up in a car at the Cebu City Police Officein Camp Sotero Cabahug. He caught the eye of CDN photographers Junjie Mendoza and asked where the other reporters were. He said he wanted to make a statement.

      Until yesterday, however, SPO3 Codiņera was hard to reach, partly because his family didn't want him to get into further controversy.

      Yesterday, he welcomed CDN into his home and agreed to have the interview taped.

      "Nakonsensiya ko atong kaso sa Chiong case, kay ang katong duha sa managsuong Uy, para nako inocente to sila (I am bothered by my conscience in the Chiong case because the two brothers, in my view, were innocent)," Codiņera said.

      The Uy brothers were convicted by a Cebu trial court along with Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caņo and Ariel Balansag.


      The "Chiong 7" have since been awaiting their fate in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa amid a strong lobby for a re-trial by anti-death penalty advocates and family supporters of Paco Larraņaga.

      Last July, the Supreme Court en banc affirmed the death penalty of the five and the life imprisonment of James Anthony "Wangwang"  Uy.

      As of Paco Larraņaga's role, Codiņera expressed doubt that the scion of a prominent Cebu clan was involved in the crime.

      He had no hard facts though since it was the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), another police unit, which handled this aspect of the case.

      The retired policeman echoed the earlier arguments of Miguel Juan del Gallego of the Crusade for Truth and Justice movement, that the anchor testimony of state witness Davidson Rusia alias "Tisoy Tagalog" was unreliable about the alleged presence of Larraņaga in accounts of abduction and gang rape.  

      "Sa akong imbestigation wa gyud na mogawas ang pangalan ni Paco. Didto na sa CIDG. Wa ko kihibaw kun ki-unsa si Tisoy, nanong nitug- an. Ang milutaw nga pangan kang Josman, Adlawan og Tisoy ra jud," he said.

      (In my investigation, the name of Paco did not come up. It came from the CIDG. I don't know what they did to Tisoy, why he said that, because only the names of Josman, Adlawan and Tisoy surfaced during my investigation). 

      "Kahibaw gyod ko sa tanan because akoy nagkuha sa extra judicial confession ni Tisoy. Wa mani maapil ang ngan sa mga Uys," he said.

      (I should know all this because I was the one who took Tisoy's statement in the extra-judicial confession. The names of the Uys weren't part of it.)"

      Codiņera said the Uy brothers may have been implicated because they were close friends of Aznar and were known members of Aznar's barkada (gang).

      While he gave Larraņaga the benefit of the doubt, the retired policeman said he believe the court as right in convicting Aznar, scion of another prominent Cebu clan.

      'Di mahitabo di makombinser and huwas ana kay straight forward iyang pag-testify niyakang Josman atol sa trial' (The court would inevitably be convinced because Rusia gave a straightforward testimony during the trial)," said Codiņera.

      'Pagkuha nako og extra-judicial confession, mura wa gyod maghuna-huna kun unsa iyang parte kay Josman' (When I took his statement in the extra-judicial confession, Rusia didn't seem to think twice about his responses about Josman Aznar.)

      "I could have been summoned to testify on what I know," said the ex-policeman yesterday, but the court never asked him during the celebrated trial.

      Many quarters would wonder why he decided to speak only now.

      Codiņera said he had no motive other than to tell the truth before he meets his Maker.

      "Ang akong gitaya ani pagsulti between life and honor. Akong depensaam akong dungog aron sad ma-clear ang pangalan sa Ginoo sa akong sala,", Codinera said.  

      (I am placing my life and honor at stake. I will defend my life and honor in order to clear my name before God for my sin).

                           DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.        
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