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The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts

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The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« on: October 13, 2012, 02:38:58 PM »
BACKGROUND

The "Crime of the Decade"

Chiong murder case

The Chiong murder case (People of the Philippines vs. Francisco Juan Larrañaga et al.) was a rape-murder case in the Philippines.  On July 16, 1997, in Cebu, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong allegedly were kidnapped, raped, and murdered. (wikipedia)




The Chiong Sisters

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2012, 02:49:53 PM »
The Trial

Prosecution

According to the prosecutors, at 10:00 p.m. on July 16, 1997, Larrañaga and seven other defendants kidnapped the Chiong sisters near a mall on the island of Cebu in the Philippines, raped them, and then threw one of the sisters into a ravine.  The other sister was never found.

The prosecutors' case against Larrañaga centered on the testimony of a co-defendant, David Valiente Rusia.  In exchange for blanket immunity, he testified. 

The trial court only permitted Larrañaga’s counsel to cross examine him for half an hour, despite the fact that Rusia’s direct testimony lasted for days.  In that half hour, Larrañaga’s counsel established that Rusia had lied to the prosecution and the court concerning his prior convictions. 

Rusia had claimed he had never been convicted of crime.  He has a record of burglary and forgery.  Rusia fainted when confronted with this evidence.  Davidson Rusia is a convicted felon and was sentenced to prison twice in the United States for other crimes.  Rusia claimed that he was with Larrañaga in Ayala Center, Cebu early in the evening of July 16, the evening Larrañaga says that he was at R&R Restaurant in Quezon City with his friends. 

Rusia was not known to Larrañaga and only appeared as a “state witness” 10 months after the event. (wikipedia)



Davidson Rusia

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2012, 03:01:34 PM »
Defense

Thirty-five witnesses, including Larrañaga’s teachers and classmates at the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) in Quezon City, testified under oath that he was in Quezon City, when the crime is said to have taken place in Cebu.  However, the trial court considered these testimonies irrelevant, rejecting these as coming from "friends of the accused," and were not admitted.

During his trial in the Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7, defense lawyers sought to present evidence of his whereabouts on the evening of the crime—that Larrañaga, at that time 19 years old, was at a party at the R&R Restaurant along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, and stayed there until early morning the following day.  After the party, the logbook of the security guard at Larrañaga's condominium indicates that Larrañaga returned to his Quezon City condominium at 2:45 a.m.

Rowena Bautista, an instructor and chef at the culinary center, said Larrañaga was in school from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and saw him again at about 6:30 p.m on July 16.  The school’s registrar, Caroline Calleja, said she proctored a two-hour exam where Larrañaga was present from 1:30 p.m. 

Larrañaga attended his second round of midterm exams on July 17 commencing at 8 a.m. Only then did Larrañaga leave for Cebu in the late afternoon of July 17, 1997.

Airline and airport personnel also came to court with their flight records, indicating that Larrañaga did not take any flight on July 16, 1997, nor was he on board any chartered aircraft that landed in or departed from Cebu during the relevant dates, except the 5 p.m. PAL flight on July 17, 1997 from Manila to Cebu. (wikipedia)



Juan Francisco "Paco" Larrañaga

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2012, 03:03:53 PM »
The story of Paco Larrañaga

By Cristina DC Pastor

There is something Kennedyesque about the story of Paco Larrañaga, a Filipino-Spanish man who, at 19, was charged in the double murder and rape of two Filipino-Chinese sisters in Cebu in 1997. “Give up Tomorrow,” currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival captures every chilling detail of his conviction as well as the haphazard investigation into the killing of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong.

The Larrañagas, a landowning family in Cebu, are related to the powerful Osmena political clan. The Cebuanos, the media and the courts wanted so bad for someone to take the heat for the brutal killing of the sisters, they decided to cast the son of a ‘hacendero’ as the villain based on flimsy fact that Paco was quite the troublemaker in school.

But there’s a hitch. Paco was not in Cebu when the grisly crime was committed. He was attending culinary school in Quezon City and was taking an exam on the same day. There were photos of him with his classmates relaxing over drinks. In fact, 35 of his classmates and teachers testified that they saw Paco in school, but the judge rejected their testimonies because they were from “friends of Paco.”

What the investigators failed to look into, according to the film, was the girls’ father, a trucking company executive, who was supposed to testify against a powerful drug lord named Peter Lim. He decided against going to court after his daughters went missing. The police and prosecutors did not pursue this lead. When an ex-convict named Davidson Rusia emerged with testimony that he was with Paco’s friends when the killing spree occurred, they concluded this was the eyewitness that would tie the loose ends to the case. Rusia was widely hailed a hero, although it would later be revealed that he was tortured by the police into giving the false testimony.

The case caught national and international attention because of many bizarre twists and turns, including the suicide of the judge who handed down the sentence, the involvement of Amnesty International and the government of Spain, the abolition of the death penalty by the Philippine government, and Paco’s extradition to Spain, the country of his father.

Paco was sentenced to life by a Cebu court. The Supreme Court elevated the decision to death four years after it reviewed the case. Having kin in the right places played a role in both decisions. The Larrañagas may boast the affluence of an old rich ‘ilustrado’ family, but the Chiongs are related to a Supreme Court justice and also to a key adviser of then president Joseph Estrada. Political “connection” sealed Paco’s fate. He and his six friends were thrown into the National Bilibid Prisons along with hardened criminals, joined a gang for survival, and are still in jail more than 14 years after the crime was committed.

The only difference is that Paco is now in a Spanish prison where, according to his mother Margarita, he is studying and reading a lot of books.

“In Spain,” she told me, “the prison is really to rehabilitate the person, whereas in the Philippines, the prison is to punish the person.”

How Paco got to where he is now? Credit the probing ingenuity of a group of Filipino human rights lawyers — Felicitas Aquino Arroyo, William Chua and Sandra Marie Olaso Coronel — who took on the case. Having exhausted all legal remedies in the Philippines, they decided to bring the case to the attention of Spain. Paco’s father Manuel remains a Spanish citizen. A Spanish newspaper advocated for Paco’s release, Amnesty International and Fair Trials International gave it more than time of day, the European Union is believed to have tied it to future aid to Manila, and the Spanish foreign minister got then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to commit that “While I’m president, Paco Larrañaga will not get the death penalty.” Several months after she said that, Arroyo abolished capital punishment in the Philippines.

Paco’s sister Mimi admitted her faith was tested by the tragedy. She was beginning to question why the trials keep piling up on her family, until a Filipino priest revisited the case and declared Paco’s innocence. The priest and Paco’s 35 friends from the culinary school who offered their testimonies organized a marathon, unwavering in their belief that Paco could not have been the killer/rapist the public and the media made him out to be.

At Pangea on Second Avenue, the viewers of mostly Filipinos and Europeans gathered for the afterparty to toast directors Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco for their well-made film. Syjuco’s brother is married to Mimi Larrañaga. Many in the crowd wore ‘Free Paco Now’ buttons. I was seated with friends and a French couple who had a lot of questions about the Philippine judicial system: Why is no one investigating Peter Lim? Why is there no DNA testing? Why would the judge commit suicide? What will finally free Paco from jail? An executive clemency courtesy of President Benigno Aquino is what’s going around the restaurant as the next best possible legal option. Exhausted but gratified by the overwhelming support from around the world, the Larrañaga family is moving on the next chapter of the case and on to their third Philippine president.

“Faith,” said Margarita Larrañaga as we held hands, two strangers who just met at the lobby after watching a film, “that’s what keeps me strong.”

The film’s title is from Paco willing himself to live every single day and not to give up. If you need to give up, he said, “Give up tomorrow” but don’t give up today. Tribeca founder Robert De Niro gave Paco, a fan, an autographed baseball cap.

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islander

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 03:15:18 PM »
Larrañaga is the son of Spanish pelotari Manuel Larrañaga and Filipino Margarita González, and, through his mother, is a member of the influential Osmeña clan of Cebu. (wikipedia)


Paco Larrañaga in jail in Cebu



Larrañaga parents

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islander

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2012, 03:20:27 PM »
The film’s title is from Paco willing himself to live every single day and not to give up. If you need to give up, he said, “Give up tomorrow” but don’t give up today.

come to think of it, piks, what if he really is innocent?  our judicial system may not be perfect, but this imperfect?  how terrible.  he was 19 at the time, he's now 35.  should he serve out his whole prison term, he will be 61. 

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2012, 04:08:20 PM »
Convicted along with Paco Larrañaga

The others convicted by then Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Martin Ocampo include Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Cano, Ariel Balansag and brothers James Anthony and James Andrew Uy.

In 2004, the Supreme Court confirmed the conviction, expanding it to rape and murder, and imposed the death penalty on the convicts except for James Andrew, a minor at the time of the crime, who was sentenced to life in prison. (http://globalnation.inquirer.net/cebudailynews/)

for the whole text of the supreme court resolution, here's the link:  http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2005/jul2005/gr_138874_2005.html

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2012, 04:17:00 PM »
Verdict

The seven co-defendants were convicted of murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection on February 3, 2004.

Larrañaga's counsels Felicitas Aquino Arroyo and Sandra Marie Olaso Coronel urged the high court to admit the amicus curiae from the Basque Bar Council (BBC), Barcelona Bar Associations (BBA) and Bar Association of Madrid.  The three organizations expressed their interests in the case of Larrañaga since he was a "Spanish citizen with origins in the Basque Country, and therefore a member of the European Union." 

The BBA mentioned that the execution of a Spanish citizen would be in breach of the violation of the principle of reciprocity in international law, noting that if a Filipino citizen is found guilty in Spain, no Spanish court would have imposed the death penalty, nor would have allowed him extradited to any country imposing capital punishment.  Former Ambassador Sedfrey Ordóñez claims he is the victim of a mistrial. (wikipedia)

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islander

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2012, 04:17:35 PM »
Fair Trials International (FTI), an NGO working on behalf of those who face a miscarriage of justice in a country other than their own, entered an amicus brief which was submitted to the Supreme Court of the Philippines by the European Commission's Manila delegate.  The amicus argued that under both international and Philippine law, Larrañaga had been the subject of an unfair trial and had never been given the opportunity to show his innocence. 

FTI has since represented Larrañaga before the United Nations, appealing against injustice in the Philippines.  Sarah de Mas, spokesperson for FTI who brought the case to the attention of the European Parliament and successive presidencies of the European Union, stated that Larrañaga had served a lengthy sentence for a crime he could not have committed. (wikipedia)

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2012, 02:22:03 PM »
[Some Of] The Involved

The Larrañaga Family

father     :  Manuel "Chuchu" Larrañaga, from Alegria in the Basque region of Spain; one of the pioneering pelotaris from Spain who went to Cebu when the Jai-Alai opened there in the 1960s

mother   :  Margarita "Margot" Gonzalez Larrañaga, one of two daughters of Milagring Osmeña Gonzalez, a daughter of the late President Sergio Osmeña; cousin to Senator Sergio Osmeña III, former Senator John Osmeña, former Cebu City Mayor and now Congressman Tomas Osmeña, and former Cebu Governor Emilio Osmeña

The Osmeña name may have been more a curse than a blessing to Margot especially during the trial, as Cebu media kept tagging Paco as "an Osmeña scion."  She had to appeal to them to stop bringing politics into the picture.

Truth to tell, sources say, the high-profile Osmeña politicians have distanced themselves from the case, if not leaving Margot and her family out in the cold.  Informed of the life sentence of his nephew, then Sen. John Osmeña said, referring to the crime, "Wala akong paki (I don't care)."  Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said, referring to the crime, "Wala sa lahi ng mga Osmeña ang tumulong sa ganyan. (The Osmeñas don't tolerate crimes like that)." (Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 6, 1999)  Margot declines to talk about her famous relatives, although her eyes belie the hurt she feels. (http://framedinthephilippines.com/Newsreport2005_08METRO.htm)


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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2012, 03:00:14 PM »
BACKGROUND

The "Crime of the Decade"

Chiong murder case

The Chiong murder case (People of the Philippines vs. Francisco Juan Larrañaga et al.) was a rape-murder case in the Philippines.  On July 16, 1997, in Cebu, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong allegedly were kidnapped, raped, and murdered. (wikipedia)




The Chiong Sisters

May they rest in peace...!!

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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 03:48:02 PM »
The Chiong Family

father     : Dionisio Chiong, the father of the young women, was said to have had ties to Peter Lim, widely believed to be a drug kingpin, but the two had had a falling out. The older Chiong was scheduled to testify before Congress about Lim's alleged drug activities, but he refused when, shortly before the date, Marijoy and Jacqueline disappeared

mother   :  Thelma Jimenea-Chiong;  sister of the social secretary of then newly-elected President Joseph Estrada; relative of the wife of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilarion Davide; currently VisMin vice president of Crusade Against Violence (CAV)


Thelma Jimenea-Chiong


Mr. and Mrs. Dionisio and Thelma Chiong

When Regional Trial Court Judge Martin Ocampo issued his verdict of life imprisonment for the Chiong 7, Estrada was quoted in newspapers telling the judge to resign if he could not do his job properly.

Government prosecutors handling the Chiong case got promotions, some insist, because of their role in it. Primo Miro is now deputy ombudsman for the Visayas. Ramon Jose Duyongco is now regional director of the National Bureau of Investigation, the first agency head who was never an NBI agent. Thelma's reputation as a power broker then led a number of officials desiring higher posts to seek her endorsement.

Thelma vehemently denies any interference by Estrada and Lacson in the case "Hindi naman totoo 'yun. (That is not true.) Although presidente si Erap at sekretarya yung kapatid ko, (he was president and my sister was his secretary,) Erap never lifted a finger to help us.  Even si Lacson.  In the beginning lang, noong nawala yung mga bata, nandoon si Lacson, pero after that, wala na."  (Even Lacson. In the beginning only, when the kids were lost, Lacson was there, but after that, he wasn't there anymore.) (http://framedinthephilippines.com/Newsreport2005_08METRO.htm)


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Re: The Chiong Sisters Case and the Judicial System: Some Doubts
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 04:13:01 PM »
Considering ERAP's corruption activities, one can't help but wonder....

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