'No shortened term for rapist'

- Pia Lee-Brago -

MANILA, Philippines - The Spanish government has assured the Philippines it would maintain the conviction of Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga by the Philippine courts and have him serve the remainder of his prison term, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

The DFA explained the Spanish government is bound by the terms of the judgment of conviction in which a revision would be a violation of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA) with the Philippine government.

The Philippine Embassy in Madrid reported yesterday that Larrañaga, the great grandson of the late President Sergio Osmeña Sr., had arrived to serve the remainder of his life sentence there.

Larrañaga, a Spanish citizen, is among those convicted in the rape-slay of siblings Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong in 1997.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) allowed the transfer of Larrañaga to Spain to serve the remainder of his prison sentence following the petition invoking the TSPA.

Larrañaga availed of the TSPA by claiming he is a Spanish national in presenting his birth certificate, citing his father is Spanish while his mother is a Filipino citizen.

DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya said they have been informed of the developments surrounding the arrival of Larrañaga to his home country.

Malaya said the Philippine Embassy in Madrid is keeping track of Larrañaga to ensure the terms of his prison sentence would be carried out, and Spanish officials would have to periodically report on Larrañaga’s condition inside prison.

Larrañaga was turned over to and brought under escort by Spanish police officers to the Central Registry in Moratalaz where his fingerprints and other data were taken.    

Larrañaga was later transferred to the Centro Penitenciario Madrid 5 in Soto del Real, a maximum-security prison, where he will continue to serve the sentence imposed by a Philippine court. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the TSPA is not a “one way street” treaty that could only be invoked by Spanish citizens.

Romulo noted the announcement of the DOJ that they are working on the request of two Filipino prisoners in Spain who have requested transfer under the TSPA.  

‘I had to do my job’

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, for her part, maintained the DOJ has complied with the provisions of the TSPA, and even made it a point to go beyond what was required under the TSPA in consideration of the sentiments of the family of the victims.

While they knew for certain that Larrañaga would be going to Spain because of the treaty, the Chiongs were disappointed at what they claimed to have been undue haste.

Devanadera denied that the Larrañaga’s transfer had been rushed, saying the DOJ made several efforts to delay what she called the inevitable transfer of the convict.

Devanadera added she also invited Thelma Chiong, the mother of the victims, to her office to talk to her about the transfer of Larrañaga.

She said that the last time she spoke to Mrs. Chiong was three weeks ago.

Devanadera said she had the impression that the Chiong family was satisfied about the legal aspects of the case, particularly the performance of the obligation on civil indemnity.

If it is any consolation to the Chiongs, Devanadera said the Spanish government has transmitted a note verbale “specifying the commitment that they will oversee the implementation of the sentence.”

Lawmakers also defended the DOJ the decision to hand over Larrañaga to Spain.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the DOJ was correct in abiding by the treaty with Spain.

“In this case, the treaty does not provide that the families of the victim or the injured person have to be notified of an application for transfer. So what the DOJ did, in my view, is simply in effect, to copy the treaty in itself,” Santiago said.

Santiago said the DOJ might add more safeguards on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on the treaty in the future, “just so that all parties involved will be satisfied.” –With Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez












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