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One week after Give Up Tomorrow producer Marty Syjuco received the “Ani ng Dangal” Award from the Philippine government for bringing “honor” to the country with the success of our film, he decided to give it back. Paco Larrañaga was recently denied his petition for Pardon, so on March 15th Marty went to the Board of Pardons and Parole to return the award. He presented a letter to the board members, DVD copies of Give Up Tomorrow, and gave the following statement:
Madam Chairman, I’m here today to deliver my Ani ng Dangal Award to you and the Board of Pardons and Parole. May it always remind you that no honor can be harvested by any of us as long as the shame of injustice continues.
Paco Larrañaga and six other innocent men have spent 15 years in jail for crimes they did not commit. The real perpetrators continue to roam free. Experts here and abroad say the case was fundamentally warped by politics, patronage, sensationalism, and corruption. Yet all subsequent judgment has been based on that first series of flaws.
I invite you to watch “Give Up Tomorrow” and consider the mountains of evidence and testimonies that were silenced and ignored by the courts and the media. I pray that God will give you the strength to admit a mistake was made. And the courage to prove that your department administers justice, and doesn’t just administer paperwork.
Our government gave me this great honor, which I’m honored to now pass on to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. You alone can address our country’s shame. I hope you’ll do the honorable thing.