SC reduces death
sentence of 6 Chiong accused
The death sentence on Francisco Juan Larrañaga and five of his six
co-accused in the Chiong abduction and murder case is now downgraded to
reclusion perpetua (20 to 40 years).
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Simeon Dumdum,
presiding over the same branch of court that sent all seven accused to
death row in May 1999, handed down the new sentence yesterday.
And per the Supreme Court’s ruling in the People vs.
James Anthony Uy, who was a minor at the time of the crime on July
16, 1997, may apply for immediate probation in accordance with Republic
Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.
Section 42 of the law, which prohibits the filing of criminal
charges against a minor unless he is above 15 years old, states: “The
court, after it shall have convicted and sentenced a child in conflict
with the law... places the child on probation in lieu of service of his
sentence, taking into account the best interest of the child.”
However, a High Court ruling last Jan. 31, 2006 found merit in James Andrew’s motion for reconsideration stating he was 17 years old, a minor, when the crime was committed. So instead of death, the sentence imposed on James Andrew reclusion perpetua (20 to 40 years) for Marijoy’s case and reclusion temporal (12 to 17 years) for Jacqueline’s case.
execution that enforces the trial court’s award of P750,000 to them as indemnification.
Thelma Chiong, in a separate interview, said the family will object
to any application for probation that the Uy family might file in James
She said while juvenile justice law says the court may place a
convict under probation if a minor, another provision says this does not
include those convicted for heinous offenses.
Chiong nevertheless welcomed the issuance of the writ of execution
for the civil claims.
“The case is already finished. And they have been convicted twice
for it—once in the local court and then the Supreme Court (SC),” she
said in Cebuano.
The High Tribunal, in a 77-page decision handed down last Feb. 3,
2004, affirmed the guilt of all seven accused and raised to death the
original penalty of two life terms imposed by then RTC judge Martin
“At times we may show compassion and mercy but not at the expense
of the broader interest of fair play and justice,” the SC said in the
“While we also find it difficult to mete out the penalty of
death, especially on young men who could have led productive and promising
lives if only they were given enough guidance, we can never go against
what is laid down in our statute books and established jurisprudence,”
Justices Reynato Puno, Jose Vitug, Leonardo Quisumbing, Consuelo
Ynares-Santiago, Angelina Gutierrez, Antonio Carpio, Ma. Alicia Martinez,
Renato Corona, Conchita Morales, Romeo Callejo Sr., Dante Tinga and
incumbent Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban voted against the accused.
Then chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., whose wife
is a relative by affinity of the Chiongs, and Justice Adolfo Azcuna took
no part in the deliberation.
The Larrañaga family tried to fight off the conviction by seeking
the assistance of the Spanish government.
And while the High Tribunal did not budge, the enforcement of the ruling was put off until President Arroyo, last June, signed the law abolishing the death penalty.
THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
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