Friday, December 17, 2010

Vizconde Massacre Suspects are NOT your Usual Suspects

The Asian Human Rights Commission is right - the Philippines is lawless and that you cannot protect your family. The police cannot protect you, or even, solve a crime. The courts cannot bring justice to victims. 

Remember the movie Casablanca in the end when Claude Rains decide to let Humphrey Bogart off the hook after shooting the German officer? He ordered his men to round up the usual suspects. You do not frame rich and powerful people.

Hubert Webb and company are not the usual suspects. They are sons of powerful, rich and famous people. They have money. There is no way the police or the NBI will risk their life and jobs by framing people with money. If they were not interested in justice, they would have framed a nobody and the case would have been forgotten. If they just wanted the media to stop asking questions, they would have framed anybody who had no money, no connections, somebody with a record and that will be the end of it.

But they charged and convicted rich kids.  
You do not do that unless you know they did it. 

The supreme court says that the star witness is not credible. Here in North America, witnesses against mobsters are  "not credible." In the United States, crime families are brought down by one of their own who turn state witness. That state witness may have committed hundreds of "killings" on behalf of the crime family he is testifying against. Who else would know about their activities except their own? Witnesses are people who turn against their own. A suspect is one who confesses to his own crime. A witness and a suspect are just two sides of the same coin. The suspect goes to prison while a witness walks away. That is the only difference. You can't have a law-abiding, morally outstanding citizen as witness all the time. If the witness was law-abiding, he or she would not be with criminals. In this case, Alfaro would not have been with Webb and company in the first place if she was an outstanding citizen. 

Freddie Webb claims that even when he was senator (HE WAS A SENATOR WHEN IT HAPPENED), he did not interfere with the case. That is because he was just starting his first term and did not have time and opportunity to cultivate friends in high and different positions yet.

So, don't try to tell me that they did not do it when they face the cameras with tears in their eyes. 

Let me guess what will happen next to Webb and company. 

They will follow the good example of OJ Simpson and try to find the killers of the Vizconde family. Simpson did it by going to the golf course. Webb and company will probably travel the world.

The Supreme Court has acquitted the main suspects in the much publicized
Vizconde massacre case, ending their years of burden for being
Rather than closing the case that has gripped the hearts of a grieving
husband and father and the whole nation, it has further provoked many
questions, including: Who really killed Estrellita Vizconde and her
daughters Carmela and Jennifer?Voting 7 for acquittal, 4 dissenting with
the majority opinion, and 4 abstentions, the high court has allowed Hubert
Webb, the son of a former senator, and other scions of influential families
to be freed.The acquittal ruling bars the filing of an appeal as per the
doctrine of double jeopardy.In a press conference, SC spokesman Jose Midas
Marquez said the decision is couched on "the failure of the prosecution to
prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.""The majority is questioning the
quality of the testimonies [of witnesses]...and their inherent
inconsistencies," he said.It was only Webb who filed a petition for
acquittal, but because of the conspiracy doctrine, the other accused have
also been cleared.The others are: Antonio "Tony Boy" Lejano, son of actress
Pinky de Leon; Michael Gatchalian and Miguel Rodriguez, sons of prominent
lawyers; Peter Estrada, son of a wealthy businessman; Pyke Fernandez, son
of a retired commodore; and former police officer Gerardo Biong.Marquez
said the high court is ordering their immediate release from prison "unless
held for another lawful cause."The Bureau of Corrections has to report what
it has done within 5 days.Associate Justice Roberto Abad wrote the
decision. The other concurring magistrates are: Associate Justices Conchita
Carpio Morales, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza
and Maria Lourdes Serrano.The dissenting opinion was written by Associate
Justice Martin Villarama, Jr. The other dissenters are: Chief Justice
Renato Corona, Teresita de Castro and Arturo Brion.Four magistrates
abstained: Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, who earlier testified during
the case hearing; Mariano del Castillo, whose wife is working for one of
the Webb's counsel; Presbitero Velasco, Jr., who has close relations to one
of the parties; and, Antonio Eduardo Nachura, who was former Solicitor
General.‘We have nothing to do with the loss of his family'Former Senator
Freddie Webb, father of Hubert Webb, on Tuesday thanked God for answering
his prayers that his son be acquitted in the Vizconde massacre case.In a
radio dzMM interview, Webb could hardly speak with emotion after hearing
that the Supreme Court had acquitted his son in the gruesome massacre 15
years after the latter was sent to jail for the crime."You have to
understand - he has lost 15 years of his life. Since Day 1, we have already
been saying that he was in the US but only a few people believed it. We
cannot blame them because at that time there were so many things being
written in the newspapers that if I didn't know anything about the case, I
would be the one to throw a stone at Hubert Webb. And now it has finally
come to light. The Lord will answer your prayers," he said.
Asked his message for Lauro Vizconde, Webb said: "There is a difference
between him and me. Alam naman niya... kahit paano nag-imbestiga din kami.
We have nothing to do with the loss of his family. I agree with him. I
could imagine... at least tama siya na at least ang anak namin nandiyan.
But I don't know son has been in jail for 15 years for a crime he
has not committed."Webb said he is now on his way to prison to finally see
his son be freed. "I don't know if there is paperwork but I am on my way to
pick up my son," he said.Vizconde assails decisionMeanwhile, an emotional
Lauro Vizconde cried and fainted after hearing the news that the Supreme
Court had acquitted Webb and the 5 others accused.Vizconde was immediately
surrounded by relatives and supporters who have been with him 19 years
since the massacre, reported ABS-CBN correspondent Jing Castañeda, who was
at the family's residence in Parañaque City after the decision was
announced on Tuesday morning."Panawagan. Hindi po nakuha sa dalangin natin
kaya po kayo na po ang gumawa ng paraan kung paano magkakaroon ng hustiya
ang pagkawala ng aking mga mahal sa buhay," Vizconde said.While slumped on
a chair, Vizconde tearfully said, "Ewan ko...Diyos ko! Bakit mo po ako
pinababayaan?"The former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) said he did
everything he could to get justice for his wife Estrellita and daughters
Carmela and Jennifer."Ginawa ko lahat ng magagawa ko sa tulong ng lahat ng
nagmamalasakit sa akin. Pero wala. Maski mga dasal ko, parang hindi
dininig," he said.When asked what he would like to say to his family,
Vizconde replied, "Wala akong masasabi sa kanila basta sa kabilang buhay,
doon na lang po kami husgahan pare-pareho."Vizconde pointed to supposed
lobbying at the high court in the decision."Ano pa ba ang masasabi natin?
Kaila pa ba sa inyo ang rampant corruption sa ating gubyerno? Umpisahan mo
sa pinuno sa kaibabaan. Kaya yan ang kinatatakutan ko, hindi magtatagal
iyan nga ang nangyari," he said."Kilala na. Nalaman na ng taongbayan. Kaya
ko ibinulgar yun para at least man lang sana ay magkaroon ng dalawang
pagiisip. Pero hindin pa rin. Sakim ng salapi alam ko," he added.The
grieving manFor many months, the nation waited for the decision of the
Supreme Court following the failure of police authorities to present the
one last evidence that could have further held Webb as the culpable
party-the sperm specimen found in the body of Carmela.The wait, however,
was said to be more excruciating for the complainant. Lauro Vizconde found
himself at a loss as to how such kind of carnage has befallen his family.On
the morning of June 30, 1991, the 47-year-old Estrellita, 18-year-old
Carmela and 7-year-old Jennifer was found murdered in their home in BF
Homes Subdivision in Parañaque.It was only after 4 years that an
eyewitness, Jessica Alfaro, emerged and gave context to the crime.Alfaro,
who was a confessed drug addict, submitted several testimonies that
befuddled the minds of legal pundits, conspiracy theorists and film makers
alike.In the end, then Parañaque trial court Branch 274 Judge Amelita
Tolentino gave credence to the issues raised by the prosecution including
the relevance of Alfaro's testimony.The accused were convicted on January
6, 2000.Alfaro's testimonyAlfaro, who is now in the United States and
married to one of her then bodyguards, testified that she was with the
suspects on the night of June 29, 1991.They had then finished a shabu
session until they decided to go to Carmela's house. Webb was supposedly
smitten with the young lass and decided he would rape her.Alfaro said she
was tagged along because Estrellita only allowed her daughter to entertain
female visitors. The group, in 3 different cars, had to go back and forth
the subdivision waiting for the right moment to enter the Vizonde's home.
All had sniffed shabu with each turn.Alfaro said she saw Webb follow
Carmela while the others acted as lookouts. Estrellita was supposedly
killed first before Webb raped Carmela.Jennifer tried to stop Webb but was
hurled to a wall and then later killed.Est
rellita had sustained 13 stab wounds, Carmela had 17 and Jennifer had
19.After the carnage, Webb called policeman Gerardo Biong supposedly to
clean their "mess." Biong supposedly destroyed vital physical evidence such
as the clothing and the bloodied bedsheets.The charge sheetThe panel of
prosecutors, which filed the case in 1995, said "neither can we discredit
Alfaro merely because of the inconsistencies in her two sworn statements.
Citing Angelo vs. Court of Appeals, the Court refused to discredit the
testimony of a witness accusing therein petitioner for the slaying of one
Gaviano Samaniego even though said witness failed to name Angelo in his
affidavit which was executed five (5) months earlier. Granting, the Court
continued, that a part of the witness' testimony is untrue, such
circumstance is not sufficient to discredit the entire testimony of the
witness."On the defense's rebuttal, the prosecution said "denial is a
self-serving negative which cannot be given greater evidentiary weight than
the declaration of a credible witness who testified on affirmative
matters."Their alibis were supposedly weak, including Webb's claims that he
was in the US when the murders happened.Departure stampsThe defense
produced documents and presented 95 witnesses while the prosecution
presented only 7 witnesses. The accused were meted out the penalty of
reclusion perpetua.They also lost the case before the Court of Appeals on
December 16, 2005. This was affirmed on January 2007.Dissenting opinions
emerged there, however. They gave credence to Webb's passport issued by the
Bureau of Immigration which bears a departure stamp of March 9, 1991 and
arrival stamp of October 27, 1992.Webb also presented certifications from
the US-INS Washington DC confirming his entry to the United States.Then
Justice Lucenito Tagle, who is now Comelec commissioner, said: "To hold an
accused guilty as a co-principal of conspiracy, there must be sufficient
and unbroken chain of events that directly and definitely links the accused
to the commission of the crime without any space for baseless supposition
or frenzied theories to filter through."Supreme CourtLegal wheels continued
to turn after the SC earlier announced it was deciding the case even
without the DNA sample it had asked.The lawyers of Webb filed contempt
charges against the police authorities who supposedly lost the exculpatory
evidence.Fiscals, on the other hand, said that the same evidence is not
anymore important considering the voluminous texts and other pieces of
information they had submitted. Their case, of course, is anchored on their
wins before the lower courts.The controversy came to another peak when
Biong was released from prison after having fully served his sentence.The
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, where Vizconde is a member, cried
foul. It said Biong's release from prison showcased of things to come.The
decision of the magistrates proved their fears.Marquez said: "The court
will decide cases in accordance with facts, whether the decision is popular
or unpopular."

SC: Webb acquittal is final 

By Marlon Ramos, Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Friday virtually shot down as an exercise in futility a plan to seek a reversal of the tribunal’s decision acquitting Hubert Webb and six others of the Vizconde massacre case.
The high court’s administrator and spokesperson Midas Marquez on Friday warned that the plan of Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta to file a motion for reconsideration might only hurt and “give false hopes” to Lauro Vizconde, whose wife and two daughters were brutally murdered in June, 1991.
Vizconde had openly assailed the tribunal for clearing the convicted killers of his wife Estrellita, and daughters Carmela and Jennifer in a controversial decision early this week.
While nothing could stop Acosta from filing a motion for reconsideration, Marquez said, the tribunal would likely deny the petition or note it without action.
“Based on existing jurisprudence, acquittals are final and immediately executor,” he said.
He added that this explained why the court ordered the New Bilibid Prisons to report in writing within five days its action on the release order for Webb et al.
According to Marquez, Article III Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution explicitly states that “no accused should be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.”
“The rule against double jeopardy is enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution,” he said.
On Acosta’s argument that Rule 15 Section 2 of the high court’s internal rules allows the filing of appeals, he said “the same did not cover acquittals.”
“This is a general rule of the Supreme Court that only applies to civil cases, election and commercial law cases in which the Supreme Court’s rulings are subject to motion for reconsideration,” he said.
“But I would like to think that acquittal is an exception to that rule because it goes against the Constitution.”
In the case of the Aquino-Galman convicts, Marquez said, the high court ordered a retrial of the case after they were acquitted when it ruled that there was a “mistrial” of the case in the Sandiganbayan.
“The retrial was prompted by a motion for certiorari in the Supreme Court. In the case of the Vizconde massacre, the highest court of the land had already made a decision. So in what court would they file a motion for certiorari,” Marquez asked.
“The problem with their stance is that it’s giving false hopes to the old man. If the Supreme Court dismisses the motion, then the court would again be put in bad light,” he added.
Acosta for her part said on Friday that five persons claiming to be witnesses had called her expressing interest in testifying in the 19-year old case.
“Nothing’s sure yet but these people said they are interested, but then asked me, how about their security? So we will still screen those people,” Acosta said in a press conference.
Asked on what the prospective witnesses will testify to, Acosta said, “To prove that the accused was in the country at the time the murders were committed.”
The PAO chief said the group might use the testimonies of the new witnesses in their motion for reconsideration to the Supreme Court, to be submitted before the 15-day deadline for such motion expires on December 30.
One of the witnesses in Acosta’s team is eyeing is a son of a retired justice who saw Webb a day before the massacre in Parañaque City.
A National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent, Jun Nombres, also denied claims that Alfaro was an NBI asset.
“No, she was never an agent. She would hang around the NBI then and gave us two jobs, but she was never an agent or asset. She was just testing the waters if she could trust the NBI,” Nombres said.
Former NBI director Mariano Mison described the voluminous documents submitted by Webb’s camp as “trash.”
“The one who signed the certification and documents should be in court to identify those records. Those are trash,” he said.

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