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Chiong Family Furious Over Convicts’ Release: 'Just Shoot Them'

'Patayin na. Shoot to kill. They're on death row, aren't they?'
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Last month, the public furor over the planned release of convicted child rapist and ex-mayor Antonio Sanchez sent heads rolling, particularly that of Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon. It also derailed Sanchez’s covert plans for release. Sanchez is serving more than 100 years in prison for being convicted of several counts of murder and rape.

Sanchez’s family insists on his innocence, adding the public should apologize to them. “You should all be the ones to apologize to us, you all had him imprisoned for 26 years without sin,” said Allan Sanchez, eldest son of the ex-mayor. The family claims Faeldon signed his release papers under the Good Conduct Time Allowance or GCTA, which the latter denied. Evidence suggests that he did, according to a report by Manila Bulletin. 

What is the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA)?

The botched attempt to free Sanchez just scratches the surface of a much deeper plot to release more than 10,000 convicts early, under the watch of Faeldon. Because of the public uproar over Sanchez’s early release, media sought further inquiry into the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), the law that provides for the early release of convicts if they behave well in prison. The law has strict conditions, and an inmate’s good behavior for an entire month accrues only several days’ worth of time allowance. However, issues involving its abuse surfaced after media sought the list of other convicts who were released prior to the issue of Sanchez becoming national.

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1,700 Convicts Released Early, Then Asked to Return to Prison

Since 2016, under the present administration, more than 1,700 inmates convicted of heinous crimes were released by the Bureau of Corrections. Among those released were four convicts involved in the notorious rape and slay cases of the Chiong sisters. The released convicts were James Anthony Uy, Alberto Caño, Josman Aznar, and Ariel Balansag. Spanish-Filipino Paco Larrañaga, who is a fellow convict in the case, was transferred to Spain in 2009 where he is currently serving his sentence because of his dual citizenship.

"Ha, parang walang binatbat ang Presidente."Thelma Chiong

The President ordered the released convicts to surrender to authorities and go back to prison, giving them 15 days to do so. “I will give you 15 days’ liberty, provided you make yourself available anytime that you will be called for investigation to have a recomputation, or if there’s an investigation of corruption that you cooperate fully,” he said.

But the Chiong family is not having any of it. “Ha, parang walang binatbat ang Presidente. Given 15 days pa mga akusado to surrender?! Binuang na!” said Thelma Chiong in a report by GMA News. (“What, it’s like the President has no spine. The accused are given 15 days to surrender?! This is crazy!”) Thelma is the mother of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong.

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On July 16, 1997, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong disappeared. They were last seen at Ayala Center Cebu. Two days later, the body of Marijoy was found at the bottom of a ravine, bruised and raped. Jacqueline’s body was never found. It became one of the most notorious and controversial rape and slay cases in the Philippines because of the high-profile personalities involved, in particular, Paco Larrañaga, who was convicted in 2004 along with six other men for the murder and rape of the Chiong sisters.

What’s interesting in this case is the seemingly ironclad alibi of Larrañaga: He was in Quezon City the whole time the kidnapping and murders of the Chiong sisters were being committed in Cebu. In fact, Larrañaga was taking an exam on that day, attested to by his teachers and his classmates. The school logbook listed him as being present on that day.

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'Patayin na. Shoot to Kill'

Last week, Mrs. Chiong said in an interview that she would rather the convicts be killed than arrested again. “I know that they would not want to go back to Muntinlupa. Patayin na. Shoot to kill. Aren’t they on death row? ‘Di death row na rin lang,” she said. “There should be a reward. Whoever finds them should shoot and kill them. That would be justice.”

The seven convicted persons in the Chiong cases were initially put on death row, but their sentences were reduced to life imprisonment when the death penalty was repealed in the Philippines. Mrs. Chiong had words for Nicanor Faeldon, who has been fired by the President over the convicts’ release.

“It was a done deal, it was finished. They’re free. How hard is it to check the documents of the Chiong Seven who are not supposed to enjoy parole? We should have been informed. That’s protocol.”

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Mrs. Chiong said the release of the convicts in the Chiong sisters case was reliving the pain that happened over 20 years ago, especially since the convicts were released just days before Marijoy’s 43rd birthday on September 8 and Jacqueline’s 45th on September 9.

“It’s like they killed them all over again, it’s very painful. How can you move on without seeing one of them dead?” she said, referring to the convict’s release from prison and supposed death penalty.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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