Cebu rapist going to Spain

September 5, 2009 MANILA, Philippines — Unknown to many, the Department of Justice has approved the transfer of convict Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga to a penal facility in Spain to serve the remainder of his life sentence for the rape and murder of the Chiong sisters in Cebu in 1997.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said it would only be “a matter of time” for Larrañaga, a scion of Cebu’s Osmeña clan and a citizen of Spain by virtue of his father, to be transferred to a Spanish prison under the RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement.

Larrañaga, now 32, and six others were convicted of kidnapping, illegal detention, rape and homicide in connection with the abduction, rape and death of the sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong.

“He will be sent home to be incarcerated there,” Devanadera told the Inquirer after confirming the DoJ approval of the request for Larrañaga’s transfer.

“This is just a matter of time,” she said, and replied in the affirmative when asked if the convict would be in Spain before the year ends.

Reached by phone in Cebu Friday night, the sisters’ mother, Thelma Chiong, was initially at a loss for words.

She said her family had not been aware of the approval of Larrañaga’s transfer to Spain, and angrily added: “They cheated us of the justice we worked hard to achieve.”

Chiong said the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was “truly criminal-friendly.”

“They do it all the time … set free the criminals. Look what they did to the accused in the murder of [the late former Sen.] Ninoy Aquino—they were released from prison,” she said.

‘Speechless with rage’

Chiong said Larrañaga should not be jailed in Spain because he committed the crime in the Philippines.

“If he will be sent there, he would definitely be released and stay there as a civilian,” she said.

The mother also expressed the belief that Larrañaga’s family used its money to work on having him taken out of the Philippines and into a Spanish prison.

But while she said she was “almost speechless with rage” over Larrañaga’s impending transfer, her family could not do anything because it had been approved by the DoJ.

Asked if her family would not contest the decision before the Supreme Court, Chiong said: “I am already tired of this case. I leave it all up to God.”

She said she was wondering whether the treaty earlier proposed by Sen. Miriam Santiago for an exchange of prisoners between the Philippines and Spain was the basis of Larrañaga’s transfer.

If so, she said, there must be a Filipino prisoner in Spain that should be sent to the Philippines in exchange for Larrañaga.

Good conduct

The justice department’s evaluation of Larrañaga’s request under the RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement showed that he still had to serve 14 years, nine months and 28 days in prison, taking into account his good conduct time allowance.

Without that good conduct time allowance, Larrañaga still has to serve 25 years, two months and one day, the DoJ said, citing records of the Bureau of Corrections.

It was the Yorac Arroyo Chua Caedo and Coronel law firm, Larrañaga’s legal counsel, that filed the application for his transfer to a Spanish prison.

The convict signified his consent to the application by signing the document. He also submitted to the DoJ an affidavit dated Sept. 1, 2009, affirming his consent.

Devanadera on Friday sent a letter to Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo to facilitate the translation of the DoJ evaluation of Larrañaga’s request and the submission of the evaluation to Spanish authorities for their own perusal.

Copies of the DoJ endorsement of the transfer were also sent to Consul General Mercedes Alonso at the consulate of Spain and to lawyer Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo of the law firm.

The document signed by Devanadera read in part: “After evaluating the application for transfer and the documents submitted in support thereof, this department finds that the said application complies with the requirements of the RP-Spain TSPA and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

“Hence, the same may be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice of Spain for its own consideration.”

Devanadera told Romulo that Spain’s Ministry of Justice had also been provided certified true copies of the documents it earlier requested and which it considered necessary in its evaluation of Larrañaga’s application for transfer.

“We are also forwarding the certified copy of the May 5, 1999, decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 of Cebu City which the Ministry of Justice of Spain has likewise requested,” she said.

Conditions

The following are the conditions by which a convict may be transferred to a prison in his own country under the terms of the RP-Spain agreement:

• If the acts or omissions on account of which the sentence has been imposed are punishable in the administering state.

• If the sentenced person is a national of the administering state at the time of the request for transfer.

• If the judgment is final and there are no other legal proceedings relating to the offense or any other offense pending in the sentencing state.

• If the transfer is consented to by the sentenced person.

• If the part of the sentence still to be served at the time of the receipt of the request is at least one year.

• If the sentenced person has satisfied payment of fines, costs, civil indemnities, and or pecuniary sanctions of all kinds for which he is liable under the terms of the sentence.

Mechanical process

According to the DoJ evaluation, Larrañaga’s request has satisfied all the conditions for his transfer.

“Ours is just a mechanical process, clerical at worst,” Devanadera said when asked about the DoJ approval of Larrañaga’s request.

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