Thelma Chiong: Chiong 7, who were on death row, should not be eligible for GCTA
CEBU CITY, Philippines — “What has happened to our justice system?”
This was the question of Thelma Chiong who was reacting to the possibility that the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), which provides for the early release for prisoners based on their attitude inside penitentiaries, might also aid in the freeing of the seven men convicted of abducting, raping and the killing of her two daughters in July 1997.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier confirmed that the seven persons convicted in the abduction, rape-slay of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong might benefit from the increased GCTA.
“We feel so much injustice right now. It is as if my daughters died again. It has been 22 years, but how can we move on when the accused in their death may be freed soon?” Chiong said.
Chiong granted an interview on Thursday, August 29, in front of Marijoy’s tomb at the columbary of the Alliance of Two Hearts Parish in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.
The body believed to be that of Marijoy’s was found dumped at a cliff in Carcar City days after they went missing on July 16, 1997. Jaqueline’s body was never found.
Convicted in the abduction and alleged rape-slay of the sisters were Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, Jozman Aznar, Rowen Wesley Adlawan, Alberto Allan “Pahak” Caño, Ariel Balansag, James Andrew “MM” Uy and James Anthony Uy, collectively known as the Chiong 7.
Read more: Chiong 7’s kin to seek executive clemency
The Chiong 7 was earlier sentenced to death through lethal injection by the Supreme Court in 2004 but were saved when the death penalty was abolished in 2006 upon the signing of Republic Act 9346.
Mrs. Chiong told CDN Digital that the Chiong 7 should not benefit from the GCTA as assured in the provision of the law abolishing capital punishment.
“(A) Person convicted of offenses punished with Reclusion Perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to Reclusion Perpetua, by reason of this Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4180, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended,” reads Section 3 of RA 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.
“That was made clear that they (Chiong 7) should not be given parole. Only a presidential pardon can release them,” Mrs. Chiong said.
Mrs. Chiong said she would be willing to write or seek an audience to anyone, including President Rodrigo Duterte, in an attempt to bar the persons accused to be responsible for her daughters’ death from being released.
Mrs. Chiong added that GCTA should especially not include Larrañaga, who is serving his sentence in Spain being a dual citizen.
Larrañaga has been serving his prison term in Spain since 2009 through the 2007 RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA).
But Guevarra earlier said that because Larrañaga was tried and sentenced under Philippine laws, he would still be eligible for the GCTA./dbs
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