Days after Viva Films released the trailer of its newest film “Jacqueline Comes Home,” calls to boycott it surfaced on social media.
The movie stars Meg Imperial and Donnalyn Bartolome as the Chiong sisters who went missing in Carcar, Cebu back in 1997.
The movie is based on a real-life tragedy where Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were kidnapped, raped and in Marijoy’s case, killed.
Seven men were accused of the crime, some of whom belong to Cebu’s prominent families.
The suspected “mastermind” was Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, who happens to be the great-grandson of Sergio Osmeña Sr.
Since the trailer was released, even those who have not yet seen the picture have heavily lambasted the upcoming movie, claiming it does not present the side of Larrañaga and the others accused.
In the real-life trial, all of the accused were not given the chance to testify in court. They were implicated in the crime due to testimonies but without forensic findings.
Is it to counter a documentary?
There were people who called for Viva’s movie to be boycotted, sharing the hashtag “#BoycottJacquelineComesHome” on social media.
Most posts were accompanied with a video — a documentary titled “Give Up Tomorrow” that relayed Larrañaga’s side of the story, from the day of his arrest to relocation in Spain. It also mentioned that he’s still behind bars up to this day.
In 2015, however, Larrañaga was reported to have been allowed to work as a part-time chef in Spain, although he would return to his Spanish jail cell at the end of the day.
The documentary has its own Facebook and Twitter account that petitions for the reopening of the case and freedom for the accused. It was produced in 2011 by Larrañaga’s brother-in-law, Marty Syjuco.
“Give Up Tomorrow” won 17 awards and prizes, including the Ani ng Dangal (Harvest of Honors) Award in 2012. It also got an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in the same year.
According to the documentary, Larrañaga was in Quezon City at the time and date of the supposed crime.
Reports note 42 people could attest to his presence — including his teachers — but only ten of them were called to testify.
Raymond Garcia, a lawyer, shared that he was one of those who personally saw Larrañaga.
Larrañaga also mentioned that he never knew the Chiong sisters at all.
Observations, possible loopholes
Social media users who have called for the movie to be boycotted shared that there were several loopholes in the whole case.
Jeff Jocson wrote, “Nakita ang katawan sa Carcar, Cebu, not to mention na hindi properly identified ‘yung katawan, pero nasa Manila si Paco Larrañaga?”
“Tapos kayang patunayan ng tropa ni Paco na kasama nila si Paco ng gabing iyon.”
“‘Yung professor ni Paco ay nag-testify din na kaya niyang patunayan na nasa classroom si Paco the day after na nawala ang Chiong sisters. Guys, sa Cebu nakita ang katawan pero nasa Manila sina Paco.”
Another user claimed that the authorities have never pursued the angle that Mr. Chiong was allegedly an employee of a prominent drug lord. But such connections are not verified.
Another video clip titled “The First Lie” also made its rounds on the internet, which is a companion of “Give Up Tomorrow.”
It featured a woman who claimed that the authorities have coerced her to sign a testimony that was later on falsified.
It’s about family ordeal
Meg Imperial, the actress who played Jacqueline, said that the movie was meant to portray the Chiong family’s ordeal. It was not about justice, she noted.
“We’re doing our job [and] the film is not biased ’cause in the first place, [it’s] not even about the justice. It’s about the [loss] of their daughters,” she said.
Her comments came after the movie received backlash, including calls for it to be boycotted.
“Again! Guilty man or not ang family, [‘di] maaalis ang fact na nawalan sila. Buhay man o hindi ang mga anak nila, na rape pa rin sila,” Imperial added.
The negative criticisms also managed to reach Mrs. Chiong herself, who believed that Larrañaga’s camp was the one spreading claims:
“Many netizens who support the notion that there was a mistrial were born before the Chiong case started or were too young.”
“I am saddened by this because it not only opens wounds on my part, but also on my family who have suffered so much since this case started.”
Mrs. Chiong added that she hopes Viva’s movie could clarify the issue and enlighten the public.