Sunday, October 07, 2012

Review: Give Up Tomorrow

UPDATE: This is extended in Greenbelt 3 and SM Cebu until Oct. 16. It will be screened in Promenade Greenhills and Eastwood from Oct. 12-14 and in Gateway Cineplex from Oct. 17-23, 2012.

I was hesitant to watch Give Up Tomorrow at first since I felt like this might be just propaganda but the rave reviews won me over. Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Chiong sisters double murder case and this documentary is my first exposure to this story. Give Up Tomorrow is definitely one-sided (one of the producers is related to Paco LarraƱaga) but they presented a very strong case on why the convicted is innocent while at the same time depicts the gripping reality of the Philippine justice and political system.

The documentary chronicles the life of Paco LarraƱaga when he was arrested and subsequently convicted in the rape and murder of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in Cebu on July 1997. It presents a convincing argument on why Paco couldn’t possibly committed the crime as he was, as the registrar’s documents show, was in school in Manila when the sisters were abducted in Cebu. But despite solid evidences and 35 witnesses who vouched for Paco’s innocence, the court basically ignored it. Why you might ask? Well, the documentary hints a couple of reasons on why Paco’s fate was doomed from the start and those reasons are so unbelievable, something that you think will only come out from the minds of soap opera writers, but no this is one is for real and it’s so disturbing.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the documentary is clearly in favor of Paco but despite that it still managed to present the facts of the case as objectively as possible. But without a doubt the documentary tells what we already know and yet still hard to accept: The sad state of justice system in the country and how those people with power and connections managed to manipulate the system to get what they want. Even if you still question Paco’s innocence, it was clear that he (and other six other men who were also accused and convicted) was denied the due process that he is entitled to. Paco was arrested in dubious fashion, defense witnesses were denied the opportunity to take the stand because of silly reasons; the key prosecution witness who had a questionable credibility avoided cross-examination and the judge was too hostile to the defense team from the get-go and even sent them to jail when they resigned. There are lot loopholes during the trial and yet the verdict was so obvious from the get-go because of public pressure and media scrutiny.

Give Up Tomorrow serves as an eye opener on how people are so gullible to media spinning in such high profile cases. We do often absorb the more acceptable option as it makes us feel better whenever a heinous crime is committed. We always want to have justice for these poor victims and their families without even bothering to listen to what the accused have to say. Paco, given his bad boy past and affluent status, is such an easy prey. During a media circus, it’s really hard to take things in perspective as the louder it gets, the more it easily sways public opinion.

Give Up Tomorrow is not just the story of a man looking for justice but a powerful wake up call on how dangerous trial by publicity is. It paints a picture of a rotten system that will make you think things over and over again. It’s a gripping documentary that a lot of people should see because it speaks a lot of things so hard to accept but yet so painfully true.

Rating: 10 / 10

You can watch Give Up Tomorrow at the following cinemas until Oct. 9, 2012.

SM Cebu, SM North Edsa, Mall of Asia, Megamall, SM Southmall, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Ermita, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma and Alabang Town Center 

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