October 9, 2012
What I know of this case was what I gathered while skimming the newspapers or what I hear on the news over the years. Paco's physical appearance, that of a hefty, brusque, seemingly arrogant rich young man, certainly did not help his image in the public. The case resurfaced recently when the Spanish government sought to intervene in the fate of this Spanish citizen. This perceived foreign interference in our justice system also did not sit very well with the Filipino people. The Larranaga family really had everything going against them.
Of course, before going in, I had already expected this film to try to convince its viewers that all of what the general public knows from the news headlines was NOT the whole story. Important conflicting evidences were presented from the first few minutes.. As expected too, the uneven police investigation, the questionable star witness and the irregular court behavior of the presiding judge were also shown. They also showed how the Spain government got involved in the case. All of these important information had been previously unheard of, as far as I, an uninvolved outsider, was concerned.
The most controversial points of this film were those that seemed to turn the tables on the parents of the victims themselves. Are Dionisio and Susan Chiong really the just the unfortunate, devastated parents of poor Jackie and Marijoy? This film seeks to shatter that commonly-held public perception. The film tells us about previously unknown connections to Malacanang and other shady dealings. How did the filmmakers get that ironic statement of Mrs. Chiong at the end on film? How the Chiongs were presented here was far from unbiased.
This is certainly an eye-opening film. Everyone suspects that the local justice system may be murky, but here was a story told from the inside by a family who seemed to have experienced the worse end of the stick. The argument as presented by the film is truly well-organized and convincing. Having respected multi-media journalist Solita Monsod there on their side lends further credence to their position. But again, we have to keep in mind that we are again only hearing from one side. The producer discloses in the film's publicity and at the end of the film that he is related to the Larranagas. Whether the audience believes what this film is trying to say is still up to them. People who like to think and discuss after watching films should watch this one. Should we now think twice about all of these stories we hear in the news?