The prosecution averred, through several of its witnesses, that the dead body of the woman found at the bottom of the cliff in Tan-awan, Carcar, Cebu, last 18 July, 1997, was that of Marijoy Chiong. Was that really Marijoy Chiong?
In the course of the trial, controversy has been generated as regards the identity of the dead body found in Tan-awan, Carcar, Cebu, last July, 1997. The reason, the prosecution failed to conclusively prove that indeed the dead body was that of Marijoy Chiong.
And the judge did not give much importance who the dead lady was. He said it was not necessary to produce a body or to prove rape since he was trying the accused for kidnapping and serious illegal detention. And that was what he sentenced them for. Not rape, not murder, contrary to what one newspaper in Cebu persistently reports as if wanting us to believe otherwise.
In his 1999 omnibus order, issued eight (8) days after his May 5 judgment of conviction, he declared in bold letters that: “there are very serious doubts in the mind of this Court as to the identity of the corpse found at Sitio Tan-awan, Carcar, Cebu”
Judge Ocampo continues: “In the view of the Court, there appears to have been deliberate intent on the part of the Police and the Prosecution not to present frontal, close-up pictures of the face of the said corpse – which surely must have been taken or photographed both at the ravine were the corpse was found at about 10 A.M. of July 18, 1997 (per testimony of Policemen Arturo Unabia of the Carcar police) and at the Tupaz Funeral Parlor where the corpse was immediately brought thereafter.
That woman had been dead for only about 30 hours and her face was perfectly intact and recognizable – as shown by the distant, angular photos of said corpse submitted to the Court. It is unthinkable and unbelievable that the Police had not taken frontal, close-up photos of the face of that still undecomposed corpse – which is the most logical thing to do in cases of unidentified dead bodies. But, lo, the Police took photographs (or they submitted only photographs) of that corpse in different positions but excluding the frontal of her face.
There is a frontal, close-up photo of her face – but then her face appears to be covered with a towel or something – so that her face is not visible – as if the Police did not want people especially friends of Marijoy to see the face of that corpse. Why?
Why did the police and the Prosecution deliberately not present frontal close-up photos of the face of that corpse? Which any person with average intelligence would assume must surely have been taken by the police investigators? Why did they decide to not present or in effect suppressed such facial photos? Because the pictures would show that the dead woman was not Marijoy? There is legal presumption “that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced” (Rule 131, Sec. 3.e).
Further, a July 20, 1997 clipping of the Sun-Star Daily was identified in open court, submitted by Atty. Fidel Gonzales, reporting “that the Homicide Section Chief Florencio Diaz declared that the body of a girl found at Sitio Tan-awan does not belong to one of the missing Chiong girls.” (TSN Aug. 19, 1998, p. 122). Is this the reason why the Police chose not to present the frontal close-up photos of the face of that corpse? – because the face photographed does not belong to one of the missing Chiong girls? xxx”
According to the judge, no less than Mrs. Thelma Chiong herself, the mother, had admitted that “she did not actually see that corpse after it was retrieved from the ravine at Carcar.”
His Omnibus order continues: “The question that thus mystifies the Court is: Is it normal and logical for the mother of the girl – who was reportedly kidnapped, raped and murdered – not to even want to see the face of her dead daughter two days after she was allegedly dumped into a ravine in order to verify if it was really her daughter? It was already July 24 (8 days after the kidnapping and 5 days after Mrs. Chiong learned from her relatives that the corpse was Marijoy) that Mrs. Chiong finally came to accept the identity of the corpse as Marijoy’s – because the police then allegedly told her that the fingerprint matched. But why would a mother not even want to see if the body recovered was that of her kidnapped daughter – immediately after recovery or at least a reasonable time thereafter?
According to her testimony, it was on July 19, 1997 that Mrs. Chiong learned from her son Dennis and her two (2) brothers and auntie that the girl found at the bottom of the ravine at Tan-awan – whom they saw lying at the Tupaz Funeral Parlor – was Marijoy. Inspite of this knowledge, Mrs. Chiong did not think of going to that Funeral Parlor herself to look at the face and remains of her daughter. xxx”
According to the judge, if the brother of Marijoy, "Dennis, himself who actually saw the corpse in the funeral parlor was doubtful it was his sister's "because the corpse has long hair" - how much more doubtful is this Court which was never shown a photo of the face of the corpse?
The Court cannot just rely blindly on the testimony of P/Insp. Edgardo Lenizo that he found the skin tissues that had been sliced off the right and left thumbs of that corpse “perfectly matched” the thumb prints of Marijoy as appearing in her Voter’s Registration.
Because if the police wanted to make the public accept that the corpse was Marijoy’s (as the mmm
The judge further questions: "How come the members of the Chiong family who allegedly saw that corpse were not made to testify in Court and identify it as Marijoy? It was only Thelma Chiong who testified that her husband Dionisio and her son Dennis had told her that they were convinced that the corpse was Marijoy’s – but that was hearsay? Why did the identification by the Chiongs of that corpse as Marijoy’s have to be hearsay? Why did the Prosecution not call on Dionisio and Dennis Chiong to testify? – since they were the ones who actually saw that corpse at the funeral parlor?"
Indeed, why didn't the
prosecution call on Mr. Dionisio Chiong to testify? Besides properly
identifying the body in open court, he could have testified under oath the
real date of the affidavit he made giving a
motive for the crime to both Larrańaga and Aznar.
The prosecution tried to establish the identity of the dead body through its supposed fingerprint by presenting their so-called fingerprint expert in court.
But, the findings of the said expert is not conclusive, for the same fingerprint expert remarked in his own report, “additional legible (left thumb) standard specimens are needed for comparison”.
If indeed, Inspector Lenizo was sure of his conclusion in his report that “the right thumbprint of one Marijoy J. Chiong appearing on the specimen marked as “S” are impressions made by one and the same finger”, then why did he later remarked, “additional legible (left thumb) standard specimens are needed for comparison”.
No explanation whatsoever was given by the prosecution as to why indeed the specimen from the left thumb is still needed by the Inspector for comparison. Therefore creating doubt as to the conclusions reached in the said report.
It is likewise puzzling why the prosecution never used the information found in the "voter's registration record" filled up and signed by Marijoy Chiong herself approximately three (3) weeks before she was supposedly kidnapped wherein she lists a mole in the nose as her identifying mark. Did that dead body of the woman found in Tan-awan, Carcar had a mole in the nose?
The prosecution's evidence is surprisingly and suspiciously silent on this score.
Dr. Nestor Sator, the medico-legal officer who conducted an autopsy on the dead body of the woman as above-indicated, never noted that he saw a mole in the nose of that dead woman.
The prosecution had a great deal of time to dispel the all serious doubts raised as regards the identity of the dead body by way of presenting rebuttal evidence on that score.
But surprisingly and suspiciously again, the prosecution did not care to present any rebuttal evidence. WHY?
They had a chance in Dr. Lancaucan, a dental officer, who, as testified by Inspector Lenizo, had conducted a dental examination on the cadaver for purposes of its identification, when it was lying in the morgue in Carcar.
But again, in spite of Pros. Galanida's promise in court that they will be presenting the dentist, the prosecution never presented him nor his findings in court. What were they afraid of?
In as much as the Omnibus order of Judge Ocampo was issued 8 days after his May 5, 1997 judgment, this writer wonders if this document was included in the files forwarded to the Supreme Court for review.
This writer wonders if the learned and honorable Justices of the Highest Court on the land had a chance to read this document wherein the RTC judge clearly manifests his doubts on the identity of the female found in the ravine. Judge Ocampo heard this case and came out with this omnibus order.
As a lay man, I find it difficult to understand, how the
Supreme Court totally ignored his (Ocampo) order and upgraded his judgment
from double life sentences to death by legal injection, unless this
document was never presented to them.
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