MANILA – A fourth person convicted for the abduction and rape-slay of the Chiong sisters has been released on good conduct time allowance but will soon surrender, a Department of Justice official said Monday.
DOJ Spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete said James Anthony Uy, one of the 7 convicted for the kidnapping, rape and killing of sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong on July 16, 1997 in Cebu City, was one of those released under the GCTA law, although he did not provide details when the actual release took place.
Former Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon confirmed during a Senate hearing last week that 3 of the 7 convicts in the Chiong sisters case had been released -- Josman Aznar, who belongs to a prominent family in Cebu, conductor Ariel Balansag and van driver Alberto Caño – but not after copies of their release memorandum dated August 16 this year surfaced in the media.
Aside from Uy, also convicted were Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, the great-grandson of the late President Sergio Osmeña, Sr.; Rowen Adlawan, and Uy’s older brother, James Andrew.
Both Uy brothers, who were found to be minors at the time of the crime, were sentenced to reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) for the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape, and 12 to 17 years imprisonment for the crime of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The 5 other adults were sentenced to death and reclusion perpetua for the same crimes.
Larrañaga is currently serving his sentence in Spain.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Usec. Deo Marco confirmed to ABS-CBN News Saturday that Balansag and Caño had surrendered to BuCor on Friday night.
Guevarra said a 3rd convict, Aznar, was expected to surrender this week.
According to Perete, Uy will surrender along with Aznar.
The Chiong sisters, Jacqueline and Marijoy, were only 22 and 20 when they were kidnapped at a mall in Cebu.
According to suspect-turned-state witness Davidson Rustia, Aznar, Adlawan, Larrañaga, and Uy took turns raping the sisters.
Balansag and Caño allegedly drove Marijoy to Carcar town in central Cebu where her head was wrapped in masking tape before she was pushed off a 150-meter deep ravine. She was found 2 days later.
An autopsy report showed she was raped by more than 1 man, was still alive when she was pushed off the cliff, and died due to brain hemorrhage and multiple physical injuries.
To this day, Jacqueline has yet to be found.
CONTROVERSIES SURROUNDING CHIONG SISTERS TRIAL
The Chiong sisters trial was marked by several controversies.
On October 7, 1999, Judge Martin Ocampo, the Cebu judge who convicted the 7 accused, took his own life inside a hotel room in Mactan, Cebu.
The defense had also questioned the credibility of Rustia, who withheld information he had a record of burglary and forgery.
Larrañaga also questioned why the trial court deemed irrelevant the testimonies of 35 of his witnesses – teachers and classmates from a culinary school in Quezon City who claimed Larrañaga was in Quezon City and not in Cebu on the night of the kidnapping.
He also presented flight records showing he came back to Cebu only on July 17, the day after the incident.
Defending its decision, the Supreme Court in its July 2005 resolution said Rustia’s testimony was not taken alone but in accordance with physical evidence and corroborating testimonies of other witnesses.
The high court also rejected Larrañaga’s claim of physical impossibility, noting that it only takes an hour to travel by plane from Manila to Cebu and that there were 4 airlines at that time plying that route. SC also relied on 4 witnesses who saw him talking to the sisters prior to their abduction.
In addition, it also cited a prior complaint about Larrañaga’s alleged attempt to “snatch” a first year high school student in front of a school in Cebu in September 1996.
James Andrew Uy’s claim of minority also became an issue.
Resolving Uy’s motion for reconsideration in July 2005, SC noted his birth certificate was not legible but it eventually declared him a minor in January 2006 after submission of a clearer copy.