“I vote for the vacation of the verdict with conviction there being a lingering doubt.” Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza
After reading the SC’s decision regarding the Vizconde Massacre, it hardened my belief that although I wasn’t there to witness the crime but based on the evidences presented, Hubert Webb et al are innocent.
If the Parañaque RTC and the Court of Appeals have denied more than 100+ evidences presented by the defense panel then the prosecutors should have a credible and authentic witness/witnesses. And I agree to the SC decision that Jessica Alfaro is nothing but a liar. Here are some strong reasons:
1. Why did it take Alfaro four years to come up and testify for the Vizconde case?
2. Why did she have 2 sets of affidavits that are very, very inconsistent and contrasting?
3. Based on her story, why would she and her alleged boyfriend Peter Estrada (who was also one of the suspects) go and join with mere strangers (who are Webb et al) to the Vizconde residence after knowing that Hubert Webb and others would gang rape Carmela? And why would she even approach Carmela whom she just allegedly met twice before the crime in her residence if she knew Web et al would gang rape her? Were they close?
4. Neither once in the recollection nor logbook of the subdivision guard by the name of Norman White he saw Alfaro walking and riding her vehicle several times in and out of the subdivision contrary to what she said.
5. It is very weird that while the gang rape was happening, some “members” stayed outside the Vizconde house exposing themselves to the neighborhood.
6. It is illogical to say that on the way out after the crime was committed, Hubert Webb would throw a stone to the Vizconde house for no reason at all (just to satisfy the fact that there were broken glasses in the house). They were escaping. So why make a noise? Alfaro cannot established trespassing since she already said that Carmela and Hubert were lovers.
7. It is also illogical to say that during the crime was committed, her boyfriend (Estrada) opened the kitchen drawers and randomly asked her to find keys of cars and doors just to satisfy the fact that the house was messy and some valuable items were missing.
8. The statement of the maid Mila Gaviola where she said that blood stains were found in the shirt of Webb contradicts with how Alfaro described how Webb carefully did the crime and leaving the scene clean. Hence, if Webb has blood stains in his shirt, he must have put it elsewhere. (but that’s a different story)
9. If Alfaro really pushed her allegations that Carmela was in a relationship with Hubert and that the girl was unfaithful with him by allowing another lover to be with her, then why was there no (not even one) friend or relative of the Vizconde or Webb testify to it as true? And if it were true, media must have spotlighted Hubert since he is a son of a star/politician. Thus, if Alfaro’s statements were really true, then where’s the other lover after the crime happened? Not one individual claimed to be Carmela’s lover since 1991 until now. Finally, Alfaro’s statement contradicts to the statement of Lauro Vizconde (father of Carmela) who said that her daughter turned down a suitor who’s a politician’s son.
10. When Alfaro was presented to a suspect of the Vizconde case named Michael Rodriguez, a drug dependent from Bicutan Rehab, she slapped him and said “How can I forget you? We just met in the disco a month ago….” And it turned out to be a different person and the real suspect she was referring to was Miguel Rodriguez.
11. And finally, Alfaro affirmed the statement of Atty. Artemio Sacaguing , then NBI Head for Kidnapping group, that she was supposed to bring the real witness (a man) who could shed light in the Vizconde Massacre. But she didn’t bring the witness and instead took the place of the witness (pumapel). She didn’t refute to the statement of Sacaguing thereby making her a stool pigeon or an NBI asset. This goes to show that she really is not a witness at all. She just assumed to be one.
(see the SC decision here)
With so much inconsistencies with the primary “witness”, I couldn’t believe that the lower court accepted this testimony and discrediting so much alibi and witnesses of the accused. As what Justice Carpio Morales said in her concurring opinion, “A person may be credible where he is without previous conviction of a crime; who is not a police character and has no police record; who has not perjured in the past; whose affidavit or testimony is not incredible; who has a good standing in the community; and who is reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. Secondly, the person’s testimony must in itself be credible.” With the facts given in the case, where now is the credibility of Jessica Alfaro?
I’ve read the dissenting opinion of Justice Villarama primarily discrediting the evidences presented by the accused because they were falsified. But in his opinion, he didn’t use Alfaro as a primary witness and instead used other witnesses to corner the accused. But I cannot be convinced. The airline ticket used by Webb cannot be falsified and so were the records. I really don’t think it is possible to bribe the US Immigration and its Dept of State to testify in a written document that Webb was really in the US. I can’t believe that the lower court and even the CA believed that Webb could’ve gotten back to the country and kill the Vizonde’s and go back to the US so easily and falsify all those videos, pictures, documents and scripts to the people he met there. These documentary evidences were corroborating each other. It really pushes me to think that the Vizconde Massacre was really a trial by publicity.
It is now the credibility and integrity of the RTC that is questionable specifically the Judge herself, who is now a Court of Appeals Justice- Amelita Tolentino. To give a brief background, Justice Tolentino was a very intelligent student in the school, garnering the title Valedictorian from grade school to law school. But as what I’ve said in my previous blog, grades don’t dictate your character. Grades can be easily fabricated and medals can be bought at Recto.
In a separate concurring opinion of Associate Justice Sereno (the lone Justice appointed by PNoy), she said, “A review of the proceedings during preliminary investigation and trial showed that the prosecution did not fare much better, for it committed acts of prosecutorial misconduct that effectively deprived the accused of their constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.”
More importantly, she emphasize there misconducts as: “Some examples of prosecutorial misconduct would be the intimidation of defense witnesses, the obstruction of defense lawyers’ access to prosecution witnesses, the coercion of confession from the accused, the issuance of prejudicial comments about the accused, the mishandling and/or withholding of evidence, and the failure to preserve evidence.”
The actions of then Judge Tolentino and her decisions showed bias in handling the case. She denied a the motion to inhibit after allegedly making a statement pertaining to the accused party as, “Failure of the accused to surrender following the issuance of the warrant of arrest is an indication of guilt.” She furthered her comment pertaining to the soon-to-be prisoners that they “should not expect the comforts of home” afterwards she denied motion for inhibition filed by the defense party.
The injustice continued when Tolentino didn’t allow the defense panel to cross examine Alfaro regarding the 1st affidavit she presented. She also sustained an objection regarding the defense panel’s query regarding her brother’s drug addiction to establish her motive and bias. Furthermore, she only accepted 10 out of 142 evidences submitted by the defense panel and later on, she denied petition for bail for the accused party. Finally, the trial court held that a DNA test would only lead to confusion of the issues.
In the end of her opinion, Justice Sereno concluded that, “The various violations of the accused’s rights have resulted in his failure to secure a just trial. As such, the judgment of conviction cannot stand.”
It is with prejudicial people who are expected to be open-minded that starts the light of a burning injustice. The Court, the institution which is expected to bring due process, failed to do so. Justice Sereno emphasized that the Court (of Justice Tolentino) has violated the rights of the accused based on the Philippine Constitution (Art 3 Sec 14) and the Rules of Criminal Procedure (R 115 Sec 1 and R 116 Sec 10).
It is now therefore hard to answer whether justice can still be served.
This now goes to show that justice can be overpowered. Lawyers’ goal should not only win the case but giving what is due to the victim and penalizing the right suspects of the crime. Ethics is a very vital component here. If there should be somebody who should go to jail, it should be those false witnesses, unethical lawyers and judges and the sensationalist media people whose job is to ruin other people’s lives in order to have something to eat.
Both Lauro and the accused are victims here. And the sadder part is that the murderers and rapists are laughing and still at large. Lives of Lauro’s loved ones cannot be put back to life even the time spent by the innocent people in jail.
“In our criminal justice system, what is important is, not whether the court entertains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable, lingering doubt as to his guilt. For, it would be a serious mistake to send an innocent man to jail where such kind of doubt hangs on to one’s inner being, like a piece of meat lodged immovable between teeth.
Will the Court send the accused to spend the rest of their lives in prison on the testimony of an NBI asset who proposed to her handlers that she take the role of the witness to the Vizconde massacre that she could not produce?” – Excerpt from the SC decision.