As a parent, there is nothing, NOTHING more powerful than the unconditional love we have for our children. There is an innate force that empowers us to right the wrongs and go through hell and high waters to protect the children that we love from the cruel, cruel outside world.
When my three daughters came to me last September of ‘97 with news of Paco Larranaga’s arrest and astounding proof of his innocence, my initial reaction, as a parent was not to worry. I taught my children to believe in our judicial system and in the cliché that the truth shall set him free. Little did I know that the next seven years would falter all the legacies of values and principles I have tried so hard to instill on my children?
My father, a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) of class ’43, when PMAers were then true officers and gentlemen, raised us the PMA way. We were taught to believe in what is right and struggle to do what is just. He, who fought in Bataan and endured the death march for our beloved country, always taught us not to be scared of the truth, to always seek it. Not to run away from it, but to protect it.
It’s difficult now to inculcate these lessons of decency and morality unto my children, after seeing that the truth and doing what is right placed them in the spotlight for mockery and ridicule. It is hard now, to mold them into civic oriented individuals, after witnessing their pleas for justice fall upon deaf ears.
I believe my daughters and support them 100%. Paco Larrañaga is innocent of all charges against him. Not one, nor two, but three of my daughters where with him the very night the crime was committed; and they were in Manila, over 600 kilometers away from the Cebu crime scene. So why then is he in jail, almost seven years now, and the perpetrators of the killing of a still unidentified lady in Carcar are running Scot free and the Chiong sisters ...... still missing?
Let me begin, by telling you, that besides my three daughters, the following, then young students in Manila, also executed affidavits attesting that Larrañaga was with them in a restobar in Quezon City on the same very night the Chiong sisters disappeared in Cebu:
1. Sebastian Seno. Both his parents are accomplished doctors in Cebu. Dr. Dodong Seno is the chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of Gullas College of Medicine. He is also vice-president of the Rural Bank of Mandaue. Dr. Vivien is a Diplomate & Fellow and the past president of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians. She is an associate professor of the Department of Preventive Medicine of the Cebu Doctors’ College of Medicine, and an active member of the Cebu Medical Society. She is also a member of the Board of Examinees, Diplomate Board of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians. She is past chairman of the Department of Family Medicine of Perpetual Succor Hospital, and the past president of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Deceases.
2. Ann Fonacier. Ann is the daughter of Sikatuna Fonacier, the President and CEO of USALand Properties Inc, and president of Philippine Genetics. Ann’s mother is now a housewife, after retiring as manager of Tambuli Resorts.
3. Leah Montalvan. She is a daughter of Bukidnon veterinarian and farmer Juanita Montalvan. Her father, Roberto Montalvan is both a lawyer and a farmer. He is president of the Federation of Cattle Raisers Association of the Philip-pines and vice-president of National Federation of Sugar Cane Planters in Mindanao. They have seven children. They are both active crusaders for the cause of farmers and are for the preservation of our environment and heritage.
4. Raymond Garcia is the son of who was then mayor of Cebu City at the time the Chiong sisters mysteriously disappeared, Alvin Garcia and Ninette Neri. Mayor Garcia went against the then strong public outcry for blood from all the accused and came out in the open to back up his son’s testimony. He was accused of doing this because of his closeness with his predecessor, Tomas Osmeña, who happens to be Larrañaga’s uncle. Now that they are mortal enemies, the former mayor still stands by his earlier statements about Larrañaga’s innocence.
5.Paco Jarque is the son, of Cisco Jarque and the former Marilen Celdran. They are into shipping and farming. Cisco was a former director of the Casino Español de Cebu.
6. Maharlika Shulze. She is now based in London.
7. Paolo Celso. His parents are Pete and Bobot Celso. Pete is taking care of RD Tuna Canning in Papua New Guinea. His wife used to run a famous flower shop in Cebu. They are now based in Australia.
8. Paolo Manguerra is a son of Terry Manguerra. Terry is the president of Manguerra Mining and Development Corporation, among other family owned corporations. She is very active with civic clubs in Cebu.
Now I ask you this question, do you think any of these parents, responsible and respectable members of Cebu society will allow their children to falsely testify and be exposed to danger and ridicule, to save a rapist? A murderer?
Besides them, all twenty-one (21) classmates of Larrañaga in Manila executed affidavits in his defense attesting that he was with them on the days of July 16 and 17. Do you think these classmates, who barely new Larrañaga since he was a new student and less than three months in school, would perjure themselves to save a rapist? A common criminal?
Do you think the school authorities and teachers would execute affidavits attesting to Larrañaga’s presence in school on the days in question, in spite of the insults and threats they have received from Mrs. Thelma Chiong and her sister invoking their Malacañang connection, to save a rapist? A cold blooded killer?
Do you think this writer would come out in the open to seek the truth and justice for the Chiong sisters and expose his life and that of his family to danger just to save a rapist? A maniac?
Over 30 witnesses have declared under penalty of perjury that Larrañaga was in Metro Manila immediately before, during, and after the alleged crimes were committed in Cebu.
The judge, who eventually committed suicide, prohibited and disregarded the testimonies of disinterested witnesses and other documentary evidences that supported Larrañaga’s alibi. In addition, the judge did not allow testimonies from over twenty witnesses who could have corroborated Larrañaga’s alibi. Two of my daughters were among them. Only one daughter was allowed to testify by this judge. The other daughter was already in the witness stand when the judge asked her to step down. “Evidence is not a matter of quantity, but quality” he gave as an excuse.
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