Enough proof to pin down Paco, police chief says
HE hasn’t seen the documentary yet, but Supt. Pablo Labra II yesterday said contrary to the claim of the film “Give Up Tomorrow”, there was solid evidence to pin down the seven convicted for the 1997 kidnapping and killing of two Chiong sisters.
“It’s expected that the film is biased. They want to say that Paco (Larrañaga) is innocent,” said Labra, who was then chief of the Cebu Intelligence and Investigation Branch (CIIB).
Labra now heads the Regional Intellegence Division of the Police Regional Office.
“Remember the (Supreme Court) gave credit to the evidence gathered by the task force which led to their conviction,” Labra told Cebu Daily News.
In its 2004 ruling, the Supreme Court upgraded the sentence to a death penalty and affirmed the guilty verdict of the Cebu Regional Trial Court.
It said the testimony of state witness David Russia corroborated physical evidence of kidnapping, gang rape and murder, along with testimonies of other eyewitnesses at different stages of the crime.
Labra clarified that he wasn’t the chief investigator of the Chiong case. His office was part of a taskforce formed led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Supt. Napoleon Estilles. Estilles was later promoted to Chief Supt. and is now assigned at Region 9.
“At that time we were given the task to do follow up the case. They (film makers) shouldn’t have presented me as the chief investigator,” Labra said.
In the film, former regional director Florencio Villarin of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said a list of initial suspects was requested from the police intelligence, a list that Labra handcarrried to him. But instead of letting the NBI check it out thoroughly, Labra was “in a hurry” and acted on his own, leading to the rounding up of Larrañaga, five young men and a middle-aged man, who all ended up convicted.
In a post-film forum during the first private screening in Cebu last Sept. 26, Villarin showed the document, and said Larrañaga’s name was not on the initial police list. He said the case was weak and lamented that the NBI could have checked other leads, like the “drug angle” if the investigation had not been shifted to the police. Jucell Cuyos With DEPUTY Editor Stephen Capillas
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