The Enduring Mystery of the 'CHIONG SISTERS' Case - The Daily Sentry

The Enduring Mystery of the 'CHIONG SISTERS' Case

Photo credit to Esquire
On July 16, 1997, news about the disappearance of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, shook not just Cebu City but the whole nation. This Chiong sisters rape-murder case has been said to be a standout amongst the most controversial cases in Cebu.

Now, at exactly 21 years ago, rumors about the sisters and the entire Chiong family started to reopen and circulate in social media, saying that one or both sisters are still alive and living in Canada.

Another rumor that is said to be flowing is that their family is allegedly connected with a medication trafficking ring, which could have caused the sisters' desertion.

Numerous netizens have been supporting the idea that there was a mistrial and are commenting that there was a failure on due process then. That instead of demanding for justice for the sisters who are the victims, they are actually calling for the release of Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga, accused to be the mastermind of the crime.

Now the question is, what truly happened the evening of July 16, 1997? Are the sisters really no longer alive?

Why was Paco and six other men, the majority of whom were from noticeable families, suspected in the disappearance of the sisters?

Based on the reports and investigations, the sisters were last seen at Ayala Center Cebu the evening of July 16, 1997. Witnesses stated under oath that they saw Paco and another man conversing with the Chiongs at the West Entry of the business establishment.

Then again, Paco's justification set him in Quezon City that night. Attendance records demonstrate that he went to class on the 16th, and afterward took his midterm examinations at the Center for Culinary Arts on the 17th. The court saw, in any case, that his memory on what classes he took that day did not line up with his educators' testimonies.

His friends additionally swore that they were with him that night, as they hung out in a bar in Katipunan. They even took photographs together. These photographs were shown as evidence. The prosecutor later on rejected these photos, proposing that the photographs were maneuvered because in one photo, Paco wasn't taking a gander at the camera and that he was sitting in a seat that had a distinctive color.

The logbook from his condominium records him arriving home at 10:15 p.m., which the security guard on duty validated. Be that as it may, this entry was written on the highest segment of the logbook and sandwiched between two sections recorded at 10:05 p.m. The entry was as if written there later on, as indicated by the 'en banc' decision.

The prosecution’s assault centered around the way that Paco couldn't prove that he wasn't in Cebu that same evening. They asserted that the movement time from Manila to Cebu by means of plane just takes an hour. There were four flights going to Cebu from Manila that night, flight records appeared and there were likewise consistent flights returning to Manila the following day.

And according to the 2004 court's decision, Larrañaga's presence in Cebu City on July 16, 1997 proved to be not only a possibility but a reality.

Photo credit to Esquire
But of course, the defense wanted proof and needed verification. Where are the records demonstrating that Paco flew? Regardless of whether he utilized a private plane, there must be a record some place. Representatives of four airlines later affirmed that Paco did not get on any of their trip for the 16th but said to flew to Cebu on the evening of the 17th. 

Even then, the defense asked, did Paco truly have enough time to travel to Cebu, assault and murder the young ladies, at that point fly back to Manila to step through his exam the following day? But these inquiries failed to receive any notice.

Correspondingly, on September 15, 1997, four men in casually dressed, equipped and asserting to be policemen, allegedly went to Paco's school and wanted to take the latter to Camp Crame. As indicated by Paco's sister, Mimi, who raced to the scene, the men had terminated police IDs and had no warrant. It was at exactly that point that they additionally discovered that Paco was being investigated related to the Chiong case. Around then, they even went to the registrar's office which delivered attendance records of Paco amid the said dates. The men discharged Paco on condition that he would go to Cebu the following day for questioning.

In Cebu, Paco was gathered together with Josman Aznar; Rowen Adlawan, alias "Wesley"; Alberto Cao nom de plume "Allan Pahak"; Ariel Balanasag; James Anthony Uy, pseudonym "Wangwang"; and James Andrew Uy, alias "MM" who were likewise indicted taking part in the crime; they were named "the Chiong Seven" by the media. As indicated by Paco, he just knew Josman and Rowen. He additionally demanded that he wasn't familiar with the Chiong sisters, in spite of assertions from the Chiong family that Paco was one of Marijoy's suitors. Regardless of these cases and the absence of hard evidence binds the young men to the crime, the preliminary started.

Things got deteriorated on the defense side, ten months later, when a witness showed up. Davidson Valiente Rusia asserted to be a part of Paco's gang, and affirmed that he met Adlawan at the shopping center, believing that are just going to a party. At 10:30 p.m., he stated, they boarded a white auto with Aznar. When they arrived at Archbishop Reyes Avenue, they snatched Marijoy and Jacqueline from the holding up shed and constrained them into the car.

The young ladies were conveyed to the supposed Jozman Aznar Group safehouse situated in Guadalupe, Cebu City. After which, they were brought to Tan-awan, where Paco and his group purportedly drank and had a pot session. As indicated by Rusia, they alternated assaulting the women before pushing Marijoy into the 150-meter gorge but Rusia never relayed what happened to Jacqueline, nor was he at any point asked by the arraignment.

The verdict was passed on May 5, 1999 by Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Martin Ocampo. He condemned all accused for two life terms, while Rusia got away by virtue of his sweeping insusceptibility as star witness.

Years later, it has been reported that Dionisio Chiong, Marijoy and Jacqueline's father, was a confided comrade of somebody who was under Congressional investigation for tranquilize trafficking. Dionisio was said to managed the affirmed tranquilize master's trucking business.

Dionisio was fired and he was set to testify against his former boss before the Congressional Committee. That was when his daughters disappeared and he chose not to testify.

Just recently, netizens and internet spies saw photographs of a man named Peter Lim attending the wedding of Debbie Chiong, the youngest daughter of Dionisio and Thelma where some netizens ventured to speculate that Debbie is actually Jacqueline, which clarifies the non-appearance of a body.

Photo credit to Twitter, Josephine Tan
Now, the biggest question is, did Jacqueline truly get back home? Is there any reality to the bits of gossip that the two sisters are really alive and covering up in another part of the world? 

Is Paco Larrañaga really guilty or not?

Whatever reality might be about the crime, the main thing that appears to be indisputable, after twenty years, is that there was a great ineptitude at work. At the preliminary, the requirement for hard proof was disregarded, and no one thought to cross-check the declarations. Numerous lives, and not only Paco's or the Chiong family's were changed permanently.

Source: Esquire