Missing evidence delays Chuang kidnap case
MANILA, Philippines–With the refiling of documents which the court had earlier declared missing, the family of 5-year-old Eunice Kaye Chuang who was kidnapped and killed along with her nanny is hoping that justice would soon be handed down in the 14-year-old case.
In an interview with prosecution lawyer Sandra Olaso-Coronel on Tuesday, she told the Inquirer that they forwarded to the court last week the four missing documents that had been admitted as part of their evidence in the kidnapping and double homicide case.
The move was in compliance with the June 23 order of acting presiding Judge Mona Lisa Tiongson-Tabora of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 5 asking both parties in the case to submit the following to her office:
— Affidavit of Chief Insp. Sotero G. Ramos who headed the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) team ordered to rescue Chuang and her nanny Jovita Montecino;
— Transcript of stenographic notes dated Oct. 11, 2001, in the case filed against suspects Monico Santos and Francis Canoza in the Malolos, Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 12;
— Physical examination report of the Philippine National Police’s Crime Laboratory on Santos and Canoza; and
— Sworn affidavit of Catalina Canoza, mother of Francis Canoza.
In her June 23 order, Judge Tabora said that she was “constrained to cancel the promulgation of decision” due to the missing documents.
During a hearing held Tuesday to determine both parties’ compliance with her order, the defense told the court that they had no copy of Catalina’s affidavit.
Coronel later told the Inquirer that the document was among the four they submitted to the judge last week.
She said it was important for the court to have all the four documents in its possession to render an impartial decision.
Coronel added that since the case had changed judges at least three times, it was “possible that along the way, counting an instance wherein the courtroom was renovated, some of the documents may have gone missing.”
Chuang’s mother, Emily, meanwhile, expressed disappointment Tuesday when she heard of the missing documents. “We are anguishing over the delay of justice [for Eunice and Montecino],” she said.
For his part, Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) president Ka Kuen Chua assailed the delay in the promulgation of what he called “the longest-running kidnapping case.”
He added that the court had postponed the handing down of its decision five times—thrice this year on May 20 and 30 and June 27—and in October 2012 and January 2013.
On Oct. 17, 2000, Chuang and Montecino went missing after taxi driver Santos fetched them from the Philippine San Bin School in Binondo, Manila.
Chuang’s grandmother See Pwe Eng who hired Santos said that she saw another man get into the taxi. He was later identified as Santos’ cousin, Canoza.
The victims died of suffocation after they were tied up, gagged and hidden in the ceiling of Santos’ house in Bulacan province.
Santos initially told the police that they were flagged down under Del Pan Bridge by another man who kidnapped the young girl and her nanny. The authorities did not believe him as it did not tally with their reenactment. The victims’ bodies were later found in his house and he and Canoza were arrested. Both have since been detained at the Manila City Jail.
Santos, according to the victim’s family, told then PAOCTF chief Panfilo Lacson that he kidnapped the victims so that he could ask them for a ransom of P300,000 in order to repair his house.
MRPO, an organization founded by Teresita Ang See 21 years ago which assists families of kidnap victims, especially Chinese-Filipinos, said in a statement that “with this scenario [of delayed justice], how can MRPO convince other victims to come forward and file their cases?”
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