Film shows Larrañaga’s ordeal in Chiong case-A A +A
Thursday, September 27, 2012
“IF you wanna give up, give up tomorrow. Today, do what you can to survive.”
This is what Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga said he gives as a piece of advice to someone who “wants to kill himself.”
“I won’t kill myself. I won’t kill anyone else. I’m not looking for trouble. I’ll survive and just think of today, next day the same,” Paco shares in a 90-minute documentary film titled “Give Up Tomorrow.”
Shown at the Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center, the film tackles the survival tactics Larrañaga employed while being detained for the rape and murder of the Chiong sisters.
Family members, relatives and supporters of the Larrañagas and Osmeñas viewed the film in the 242-seat capacity auditorium.
The film begins with Larrañaga, who wears an orange shirt intended for inmates, being asked whether he is prepared to be jailed or die by lethal injection.
“No,” Larrañaga, the great-grandson of the late Philippine President Sergio Osmeña, told the interviewer.
In the film, Larrañaga also shares his frustration after he was not given the opportunity by the court to take the witness stand to air his side of the story. He said he was illegally arrested and portrayed as a leader of the gang.
Margot Larrañaga, mother of Paco, recalled how they were portrayed in the media as being rich and influential.
She dismissed insinuation that they paid off the police, prosecutors or the judge to get a favorable ruling.
Margot said the kidnapping and murder charges against her son and other co-accused are nothing but baseless charges.
Mimi Larrañaga, Paco’s sister, said it was “unusual” for her brother to be in Cebu when the Chiong sisters went missing.
About 42 witnesses signed an affidavit stating that Paco was not in Cebu last July 16, 1997, the day Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were abducted.
Jacqueline’s body was recovered dumped in a gravesite, while Marijoy’s body was never found.
Authorities arrested and charged Larrañaga and six co-accused with double murder.
Mimi said Paco was not an admirer of either of the Chiong sisters. At that time, she said the victims’ mother, Thelma, was “acting to achieve the conviction of Paco.”
“This is not about Paco anymore. This is about the lives of seven innocent people,” Mimi said.
In a statement posted in the film’s official blog, Mimi said: “The law provides the innocent no real protection, no one cares about the truth and the truth, if it doesn’t have mass appeal or isn’t going to score any political points, certainly isn’t going to set you free. And most of all, we learned that good doesn’t always triumph over evil.”
Thelma, who was also interviewed in the film, said the seven convicts “destroyed the future of my children.” “And I think, I deserve justice,” she said.
Chiong also belittled the film showing.
“It (film) cannot touch he finality of the case,” Chiong said, adding Spain has no jurisdiction over the case.
Chiong said she does not care anymore about the documentary film. “Bahala na sila.
Anyway, no tomorrow naman jud na si Paco and it cannot stop the case,” Chiong told Sun.Star Cebu by text message.
After the film showing, Margot also thanked Filipino producer Marty Syjuco and American director Michael Collins for bringing the film in Cebu.
“This is what we have been waiting for. You are giving a voice for Paco,” said Margot, who belongs to the Osmeña clan of Cebu.
Dubbed as the “Chiong Seven,” the six other convicts are Josman Aznar, whose family owns several properties in Cebu, including the Southwestern University and Sacred Heart Hospital; Rowen Adlawan; van driver Alberto Caño; van conductor Ariel Balansag; and brothers James Andrew and James Anthony Uy.
David Rusia, a co-accused who turned state witness, testified that Aznar and Adlawan were the ones who seized Jacqueline and Marijoy while the sisters were waiting for a ride home at the Ayala Center Cebu.
Paco and the other accused allegedly dumped the bodies in a ravine.
On May 5, 1999, the late Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Martin Ocampo convicted Larrañaga and six co-accused of kidnapping and illegal detention.
Instead of death, Ocampo sentenced them to two life terms.
The Supreme Court upheld the ruling of Judge Ocampo and imposed the death penalty on convicts Larrañaga, Aznar, Adlawan, Caño and Balansag on Feb. 3, 2004.
During his arrest, Larrañaga was then 19 years old and was taking up culinary arts at a school in Quezon City.
Now 35, Larrañaga is still incarcerated in a penal facility in Spain after the Department of Justice approved his transfer there to serve the remainder of his life sentence.
From his prison cell in Spain, Paco said: “I am not doing bad. It’s just very lonely.”
The Prison Review Board in Spain vowed to recommend Paco’s pardon.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2012.