of 2 women....... raped and killed vows... to fight on
After expressing on Tuesday an uncharacteristic acceptance of
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's decision to commute death sentences to
life terms, Thelma Chiong yesterday said she would fight it all the way.
She wrote a letter assailing the President for commuting the
sentence of death row inmates, including five of the seven men convicted
of the rape-murder of her daughters Jacqueline and Marijoy.
In an emotional radio interview conducted after she sent the letter
to Ms Arroyo, Chiong said she initially took the news of the commutation
calmly because it was Holy Week.
But when the thought sank in that her daughters' "rapists and
murderers" might be set free, she said, she got very angry and hurt.
"I now realize why our country's justice system is called the
criminal justice system. That's because justice [here] is only for the
criminals ... We are a criminal-friendly country," she said.
In the letter, Chiong said her "two lovely daughters were
kidnapped, handicapped with masking tape around their faces, raped and
thrown [into] a 150-meter ravine."
"And Jacqueline has yet to be found until now," she
She also wrote that while suffering the trauma of loss, her family
went through the process of seeking justice despite limited financial
"Madame President, what would I say to
my children and to the members of the Crusade Against Violence and the
[other] victims of crime?" Chiong wrote.
"Is this what you call justice? Because we have a law that calls for the death penalty [for heinous crimes], you should be the best example to implement the law. Do you think that commu-
ting the sentence of
those affirmed by the Supreme Court as death convicts will be in
[everyone's] best interest? Why should we please those who have been
sentenced to death?" she wrote.
Chiong said that although she sent the letter by overnight courier,
she planned to present a copy to Ms Arroyo when the latter visits Cebu for
On Tuesday, Chiong said she could accept the commutation provided
the convicts would not be granted pardon or parole.
But yesterday, she said she could not contain her rage when she learned how the President had been congratulated for her move.
Ms Arroyo's announcement has been welcomed by the Catholic bishops
and by the government of Spain, of which one of the seven convicts of the
rape-murder, Francisco "Paco" Larraņaga, is a citizen.
Larraņaga carries dual citizenship because his father, Manuel
Francisco Larraņaga, is a Spanish citizen. His mother is Margarita
Osmeņa Gonzalez, granddaughter of former President Sergio Osmeņa Sr.
Paco and his family have insisted on his innocence, saying they had
witnesses attesting that he was in
The Larraņagas had sought and received support from the Spanish
government and from the European Union in the course of appealing for a
review of Paco's sentence.
In the interview, Chiong said the Catholic Church had taken the
side of the convicts.
"There are so many victims of crime who cry during Christmas.
Did these priests and nuns ever think of us? The government has taken us
for granted, and now it will commute the sentence of those who victimized
our daughters? Where can we find justice? Who will stand up for us?"
Chiong said, weeping.
Asked to comment, Monsignor Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer
of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said Chiong had sought help from and was
Dakay denied that the Church had neglected Chiong. He said the Church had welcomed the announced commutation in line with its pro-life position.
THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR CLEARER APPRECIATION.
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