Gov’t rejects appeal in high-profile murder case

Award-winning filmmaker Marty Syjuco is responsible for the documentary “Give Up Tomorrow,” about the case of Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga, one of the seven young men convicted in 1999 by a Cebu court for the 1997 killing of two sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong. INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has rejected an appeal to pardon a Spanish-Filipino serving life in jail for murdering two women despite an award-winning documentary showing his innocence, the film-maker said Monday.

 

Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga filed an appeal to President Benigno Aquino after the 2011 release of “Give Up Tomorrow” highlighted major flaws in the case and won a series of awards, including one from the Philippine government.

 

However the Department of Justice rejected the appeal on behalf of the president without giving an explanation, said Marty Syjuco, the producer of the film who is also related by marriage to Larrañaga.

 

“Everybody was hoping this film would make a difference,” Syjuco told AFP, adding the recent award by the Philippines’ arts and culture commission for “bringing honor to the country” had raised false hopes for Larrañaga.

 

“On the one hand the Philippine government is saying we have brought honor to the country for highlighting this injustice, yet on the other it is continuing to perpetuate the injustice.”

 

Larrañaga, then 19, and six other young men were arrested in 1997 for the rape and murder of two sisters aged in their early 20s in the central city of Cebu. He has been in jail ever since.

 

The gripping documentary, which won the audience award at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, makes a compelling case that the seven men were framed as part of a conspiracy involving corrupt police and judicial figures.

 

Dozens of witnesses said Larrañaga was in Manila, the nation’s capital, 550 kilometres (340 miles) away, at the time of the murders. But the judge ignored them, relying instead on one convicted criminal who turned state witness.

 

The UN Human Rights Commission ruled in 2006 that Larrañaga had been denied due process and cited multiple major flaws in the case against him.

 

Larrañaga remains in jail in Spain, where he was transferred as part of a prisoner exchange treaty in 2009, while his six Filipino co-accused are behind bars in the Philippines.

 

The Spanish government has also lobbied the Philippines on behalf of Larrañaga but he cannot be released unless he wins a presidential pardon.

 

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima did not respond to requests by AFP for comment on why Larranaga’s appeal had been denied.

 

 

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  • rock_steady

    let him rot in that jail.rapists have no right to roam free.

    • kanoy

      ARROYO DISAGREES WITH YOU,,,,BUT,,OH YES,,,,THE MAN IN SPAIN WAS NOT A FILIPINO REPRESENTATIVE,,,,,Romeo Jalosjos has asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to grant
      him an absolute pardon to allow him to again run for public office 12
      years after he was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl.

      Although convicted of child rape by the Makati Regional Trial Court
      in December 1997 and sentenced to two life terms, the former
      representative of Zamboanga del Norte managed to seek and win reelection
      in 1998 and 2001 even while behind bars.

  • linobog

    The Larranaga’s and Osmena’s are moving heaven and earth to free their addict siblings. Money, dramas and connections from everywhere are being used …… The 2 Chiong sisters were rape and murdered (one is still missing), a judge was mysteriously found dead in his hotel room, some witnesses disappeared ……….and now they want the president to pardon this criminal … grrrrrrrrrrrr … let Paco rot in jail together with his barkadas.

    • kanoy

      THE ONE WHO WAS IN CLASS IN MANILA THAT HAD ALL 35 MEMBERS OF HIS CLASS PLUS HIS TEACHERS AS WITNESSES HE WAS THERE DURING THE TIME OF THE MURDERS IN CEBU BUT THE JUDGE REFUSED TO LET THEM ALL SPEAK IN COURT BECAUSE THE PUBLIC WANTED SOMEBODY ANYBODY CONVICTED QUICK AND GUILTY./NOT GUILTY MATTERED NOT AND NOW EVEN THOUGH THE WORLD KNOWS HE RECEIVED NO JUSTICE THE RP….FOLLOWING THE WAYS OF THE RCC,,,WHILE PROTECTING PEDOPHILE PRIESTS,,,,CAN NOT ADMIT TO DOING THE MAN AN INJUSTICE,,,,,YEA WE KNOW HIM

  • johnvforeighner

    It would be interesting to read the facts, without the hysterics about the case. My heart really goes out to the victims families,
    And to be honest, do you really think justice will ever be served in this country??? Us foreigners who have lived here for more than a few years, doubt it will ever happen, and we are looking at the problem objectively. Until the Filipinos stops thinking that the peso is above their God, so it will never happen.

  • stanley park

    Pag me murderer na Pilipino sa Saudi like Zapanta , apila tayo ng apila, me blood money na milyones pa…pag sa China me mga drug mules na bibitayin… apila tayo ng apila….ultimo bise presidente pupunta….pero pagsa atin umapela ang iba di puede???? hahaha…kakatawa tayo talaga! Ibang klase talaga utak ni P-noy…. NO one is guilty unless proven BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT… Sa court hindi pinag-uusapan ang paramihan ng evidence but BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT… any hint or tinge of doubt, YOU HAVE TO ACQUIT…or you risk of putting an innocent man to jail.

    • http://twitter.com/bigg_dawg big dawg

      ikaw and katawa tawa, pwedeng umapila, DENIED nga lng. guilty beyond reasonable doubt nga eh kaya nahatulan.

      si Larrañaga nag finance ng film, alangan namang idiin niya sarili niya. haay… ang BUBU mU

    • magiting78

      Puede nmn apila ah, kita mo umapila cla hnd nga lang n grant…Hnd ibig sabihin nanalo yung movie ay makatutuhanan na….Bkit hnd nila dalhin s korte kung may basehan ang apela nila…Kung grant ng presidente yung apela nila pano nmn yung mga victims

  • Jennie09268561243 Tallia

    “Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga filed an appeal to President Benigno Aquino after the 2011 release of “Give Up Tomorrow” highlighted major flaws in the case and won a series of awards, including one from the Philippine government.” – Ano ba naman, sabi po ng kaibigan ko ito daw ay nadesisyunan ng korte, bat ho kayo sa Presidente mag-aapila? Ang tanga naman ng abogado nyo! Sa korte po ang apila dahil ang korte ho nagsabi na rapist at mamamatay tayo yang si Paco. Sablay ang apila nyo.

    “However the Department of Justice rejected the appeal on behalf of the president without giving an explanation, said Marty Syjuco, the producer of the film who is also related by marriage to Larrañaga.” – Eto namang DOJ na ito, ni-reject kuno ang apila ng walang sinabing dahil…una sa lahat dapat sinabi nyo na ang korte ang nagdesisyon nyan kaya saganang inyo e wala kayong karapatang gumawa ng ano mang hakbang diyan. Ano ba naman? Minsan naman gamitin nyo ang utak nyo, pagdidaw kasi ginagamit lumiliit.

  • diverme

    A film should never influence a criminal case…after all films are just for entertiainment theyre not considered proof.

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