Description: Article rank 31 Mar 2014Cebu Daily NewsBy Ares P. Gutierrez and Ador Vincent S. Mayol<br />SOMEBODY WHO CARES<br /><br />Iconic band joins cause to lobby for release of Chiong murder convict imprisoned in Spain<br /><br />One of the most influential bands over the past three decades which was also listed as among the 50 artists who changed the world has taken up the cause to lobby for the release from prison of convicted rapist and murderer, Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga.<br />Photo from 'Free Paco Now' Facebook page<br />Martin Gore, a founding member of the iconic band, Depeche Mode, wears a a T-shirt with the message “Free Paco Now” in a recent concert tour, including two shows staged in Madrid and Barcelona in Spain where Paco Larrañaga is serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of the Chiong sisters, Jacqueline and Marijoy, in Cebu in 1997. PACO LARRAÑAGA CHIONG SISTERS<br />Depeche Mode, the English band formed in 1980 which popularized the songs Somebody, Master and Servant, Just Can't Get Enough, Everything Counts among others, has taken the lead in drumming up support to an online petition posted on change.org in support of the Filipino-Spanish scion of the Osmena family who was among the accused and later convicted for the rape and murder of Marijoy Chiong and her sister, Jacqueline in Cebu in 1997.<br />“Justice is important. Paco is innocent. He has suffered for too long for something he did not and could not have committed,” Gore said in explaining why he signed the petition to pardon Larrañaga and addressed to President Aquino.<br />Larrañaga was one of seven who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the late Judge Martin Ocampo who found them guilty of kidnapping and illegal detention of the Chiong sisters. The six others were Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Cano, Ariel Balansag and the brothers James Anthony and James Andrew Uy. The Supreme Court later modified the offense to add murder and rape, and upgraded the penalty to death until President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo commuted the sentences to life terms in 2006.<br />The Department of Justice approved Larrañaga’s application to take advantage of a treaty that would allow him to serve the rest of his sentence in Spain by virtue of his Spanish citizenship. In 2009, he was transferred to a jail in Spain. The other convicts remain at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Larrañaga, son of a Basque pelota player and great-grandson of Sergio Osmeña Sr., is a dual citizen of Spain and the Philippines.<br />ONLINE PETITION<br />The online petition, titled Free Paco Now and authored by a certain Michael Collins of Singapore, has so far generated 8,000 signatures as of last night.<br />A video of the 2012 documentary “Give Up Tomorrow ” about the celebrated Chiong murder case trial and centered on Larrañaga’s side of the story is embedded on the petition page.<br />Gore, together with the members of the iconic band, had donned Tshirts with the words “Free Paco Now” printed in front during its recent “Delta Machine Tour” which took the band to 40 cities in Europe over four months.<br />According to an article posted Thursday on billboard.com: “The legendary electronic music group tops this week’s bevy of Hot Tours with $29.7 million in sales from the closing 25 concerts over the homestretch.”<br />Depeche Mode's calendar for 2014 opened with a Jan. 15 performance at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona in Spain. The venue is one of the arenas used during the 1992 Summer Olympics. Its final performance was on March 7 in Russia at Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy, which was also a venue used during the 1980 Olympics.<br />During performances, Gore would make a pitch for the Larrañaga cause which is widely believed to have been the reason behind the spike in the number of signatories from Europe in the online petition.<br />Ruben V. Nepales, the Hollywood correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, interviewed Gore and Marty Syjuco, producer of the “Give Up Tomorrow” documentary (see sidebar).<br />Recalling Syjuco, whose brother is married to Paco’s sister, recalled how the band got involved in the cause.<br />“The manager of Depeche Mode got in touch with us [saying] Martin had seen the docu and was outraged. He [asked] how [they] could help. We pointed him to the ‘Free Paco Now’ campaign website. First thing [Martin] did was post a pic of himself in a [‘Free Paco Now’] Tshirt… on the band’s Facebook page, which has 7.1 million followers.”<br />CASE IS OVER<br />Thelma Chiong, the mother of the two slain sisters and presently the national vice president of the Crusade Against Violence (CAV), simply laughed at what she perceived as yet another strategy of Larrañaga's camp to get public sympathy and redirect the spotlight to the case that long been decided by the courts.<br />“Daghan kaayo na silag gimmicks. Na -convicted (sic) naman na sila. Humana ang kaso. There's nothing more to discuss. (The Larrañagas have been introducing a lot of gimmicks. The seven persons accused in killing my daughters were already convicted. The case is over. There's nothing more to discuss),” she told CDN.<br />“Si Paco ra man ang nagsaba-saba sa tanang mga nakonbikto. Naglisud gyud tingali siya didto sa Spain kay ang iyang mga ginikanan naghimo man gyud sa tanang remedies aron lang makagawas siya. (Of all those convicted in this case, only Paco is making some noise. I believe he really has a hard time inside a Spanish jail. His parents have been doing everything just to set him free),” Chiong said.<br />Amid a variety of gimmicks, Chiong said the Larrañagas always fell short of convincing the public about claims that the seven men who raped and killed her daughters are innocent.<br />“Pabuhi ra na sa dugo ni Paco ang ilang gibuhat. Kataw-anan kaayo na sila. Unsa man ang ilang gusto? Pagawason nato ang mga criminal nga nakapatay og tawo? (What they are doing is just to stir Paco's blood. They are very funny. What do they want to happen? Shall we release criminals who killed two human beings?),” the feisty mother said.<br />Chiong said she nonetheless respects Larrañaga's camp to manifest their sentiments against the court's ruling which found the seven persons accused of killing Marijoy and Jaqueline “guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”<br />She said Larrañagas's family is just banking on the possibility of getting an executive clemency which she said President Aquino won't likely grant.<br />Chiong also took potshots on the award-winning documentary which was also shown in Cebu.<br />“Ang mga tawo kahibaw na sa ilang gubuhat. Gipanghatag naman lang gani ang mga tickets atong documentary kay wa may nitan-aw. (People already know the real story. Tickets of that documentary were just given for free so there will be people who will take time to watch it),” she said.<br />Chiong described the series of tactics by the Larrañagas as a “deperate move.<br />MOVING ON<br />Almost two decades since losing two daughters, Chiong said her family has moved on.<br />“Justice has been served. We're just making sure that all those convicted of killing my daughters will serve the penalty,” she said.<br />Chiong, who was present during the 14th Women's Congress at the Capitol last Saturday, said she has been helping victims of crimes as well as their respective families.<br />“I had two daughters (who got raped and murdered). I think all women should be afforded with rights that they deserve. In my own way, I'll help those who fell victim to crimes,” she said.
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