No Spanish revision, DOJ chief says on Larrañaga jail term

Posted at 10/08/09 1:27 AM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has assured the mother of the two victims of convicted prisoner Francisco Juan Larrañaga that Spanish authorities would not revise his jail sentence while in a Spanish jail.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City in 1999 convicted Larrañaga and other scions of rich families in Cebu for the kidnapping, rape and murder of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, and imposed on him the penalty of death. The Supreme Court later affirmed the sentence but with the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday confirmed that Larrañaga has been transferred to the Spanish government based on a prisoner transfer treaty between the Philippines and Spain. Devanadera on Tuesday said they received the order from the RTC on Monday, and Larrañaga departed the Philippines between 10 and 11 am on Tuesday.

Maximum security

Larrañaga will serve the rest of his prison term in Centro Penitenciario Madrid 5 in Soto del Real, reportedly a Spanish maximum security prison.

The justice secretary said she assured Chiong that the Philippine-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA) does not allow for Spanish authorities to revise the jail term of the Filipino Spanish convict. TSPA provides the legal framework for the transfer of sentenced individuals, for humanitarian reasons, to their home countries in order to serve the remaining portion of their sentence.

Devanadera also said that in Note Verbale number 122/2009 dated September 16, 2009, the Spanish embassy in Manila, said "there will be no conversion of the sentence imposed by Philippine judicial authorities on Larrañaga that is bound by the terms of judgment of conviction and that no justification whatsoever exists to revise the decision handed down by the Philippine judicial authorities."

If there would be changes, it would come from Philippine officials, said Devanadera. She immediately said however that President Arroyo is not about to give executive clemency to Larrañaga.

Devanadera said that Larrañaga’s camp only sought from DOJ his transfer to a Spanish jail.

The justice secretary also said that the processing of Larrañaga’s transfer did not reach Malacañang. She said that based on TSPA, the justice department is the central authority on this issue.

The Chiong family reportedly received P750,000 in civil damages from Larrañaga.

Devanadera meanwhile said that two Filipino prisoners in Spain have requested for transfer to the Philippines under the TSPA. She said the cases of the 2 were related to illegal drugs. She also said that there are 17 Filipino prisoners in Spain.

“Just implementing the treaty”

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago meanwhile defended the justice department from critics on the prisoner transfer.

She said the DOJ did not violate any law but only implemented the terms of the prisoner transfer treaty in which a convict who is a Spanish national such as Larrañaga could be transferred to Spain to server the remainder of his sentence and vice versa for a Filipino convict in a Spanish jail.

“"What DOJ did is simply to copy the treaty itself… I find no culpability on the part of DOJ. No violation of any law, they're at liberty to implement the treaty,” said Santiago,

Santiago said however that if she was JOJ chief, she would have included in the implementing rules and regulations of the treaty a provision that notice would be given to the family of the victims of the convict.

“"I would have added giving notice to the families so as not to be accused of violating due process of law," said Santiago.

Closely monitor

Larrañaga, meanwhile was confirmed to have arrived in Spain, according to a statement by the Philippine’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

According to DFA, the Philippine Embassy in Spain reported that Larrañaga arrived at the Madrid Barajas International Airport on October 6 at 11:34 p.m. (Madrid time).

The Philippine embassy said that the convict was brought to Spain’s National Police station at the airport's Terminal T4 and then taken to the Central Registry in Moratalaz, where his fingerprints and other data were taken. He was then reported to have been transferred to the Centro Penitenciario Madrid 5 in Soto del Real which is reportedly 45 minutes from Madrid, Spain’s capital.

The DFA said it instructed the Philippine Embassy to closely monitor Larrañaga's imprisonment to ensure that the terms of the sentence imposed on him by the Philippine court will be observed.

Larrañaga reportedly has family members in the Guipuzcoa and Catalonia areas in Spain. With reports from Maricar Bautista and Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News