Vizconde Massacre And The Questions We Must Ask Ourselves!

The  lessons we can learn from the Vizconde massacre are:  1) that justice in the country runs so slow, 2) investigating officers are blundering fools,  3) the judges are corrupt, 4) and unlike the poor who rot in jail forever,  the rich can always seek justice though how late that justice might be, 5) that we never ask the right questions on the acquittal of H. Webb and company.

Eleven years after they had been convicted of the crime of gang-rape-slay, and 15 years in prison, Hubert  Webb and company were finally cleared by the SCORP.  If 15 years languishing in jail without any patina of guilt in their souls is justice –  then we have a horrendous concept of what  justice is!

The recent decision of SCORP also took potshots at the  lady judge whom they had elevated to the Court of Appeals, and whose scholarly brilliance is dimmed by their findings that she failed to take chief witness Jessica Alfaro by the horn by believing her story which was very incredible and full of potholes.

In the first place, the SCORP through its Judicial and Bar Council,  screened their judges to the Bench. Now they are telling us that Justice Amelita Tolentino is an academic fraud who lacks the judicial mien and probity to sift through the monumental  rubble of lies and distill the truth from  these rubbles that could have freed much earlier from prison cells the scions of these well-privileged people.

Judge Tolentino must have been paid to put Webb and company to the gallows or she was ignorant of her duty as a judge as to tether these lily-white souls to prison cells that only genuine criminals befit these damp and decrepit prison walls. 

But isn’t it the exclusive right of then Judge Tolentino, who has the opportunity to observe up close and personal the demeanor of the chief witness Ms. Alfaro to find this witness credible?  Credibility is for the trial court to assess, not for the SCORP because these jurists will be simply reading the cold transcripts  without the impassioned emotions,  inflection of tone and fingernail tinkering which accompanied their narratives while they were being received in the sala of then Judge Tolentino.  The trial judge who observed the demeanor of these witnesses in full display of their angst, fidgeting and pouting  is more reliable in putting credence on their narrative than the  SCORP jurists, who despite their perspicacity, cannot observe this behavior from their cloistered ivory towers.

 Why did the SCORP tear-apart her theory of the case that it was Webb and company that were responsible for the gang-rape of Carmela, her death as well as the death of her mother and younger sister by selectively highlighting the unbelievable part of Ms. Alfaro’s narrative and the testimony NBI agent Sacaguing but not all the other evidence that convinced Judge Tolentino that it was Webb and company who did this ghastly crime?   For example: Why didn’t the SCORP demolish the testimony of the Webb’s household helps that on the night of the incident, H. Webb went home and asked them to wash his bloodstained jacket and that the H. Webb certificate of entry to the US refers to Holland Webb.

My favorite law professor has an easy answer.  If the SCORP arrives at  particular position on the issue, it will pick-up from the records those that will support its position and downplay all others that are not in support.

Anyway, if Webb and company were not the real culprits,  justice would still not be served because the criminals are out there lurking.   Justice would not be served on Webb and company because they suffered 15 years in jail for a crime they did not commit because our investigators, prosecutors and judges who should be quarterbacking our judicial ramparts to ensure that only the guilty are punished are so incompetent and corrupt.

Luckily, Webb and company are rich and their plea was listened to by the SCORP but how about those who were not as privileged?  Unfortunately, they could  still be languishing in jail. 

Or maybe we can ask Webb and Company how much money changed hands so they can get justice from the SCORP?

Can’t we just let these  people go because they were innocent and not because they have the money, the influence and the adoring media that circled around them?  These are the questions we must ask ourselves today- to find that that justice and truth in this country have a price tag that we ordinary mortals cannot afford.  Which brings us to the supreme irony of this case:  “The SCORP has no genuine interest in recruiting the most competent people in the judiciary for the more judges in the mold of Hon. Amelita Tolentino there are  in court who love to screw rich people up,  the more it will bring economic windfall to the reviewing court.” 

But did she really screw-up this case big-time?

7 thoughts on “Vizconde Massacre And The Questions We Must Ask Ourselves!

  1. “Proof beyond reasonable doubt” says the SC. But what does it mean to me, an ordinary filipino with no legal mind. I think, it is to decide on areas where a lot of it borders between believable or not and rational or not. If it was a simple right or wrong, then we would not need judges. It would be a cursory run down of checklist. Evidence A is here – check. Evidence B is not present – not check. And then compare it with the minimum required amount of evidence. If it passes, then guilty verdict it is. The RTC have done that already. But let us assume in that case, that the RTC erred. Now, the SC looks at the evidence once again ( based on the records ). And here is where we have the problem. The prosecution fails to convince the justices of the guilt of the accused. But the justices know that the evidence presented by the defence is not enough to merit innocence as well. Given that there are no other possible suspect except the Webbs et al, what do they do now? Do they read the law in its bare text and use a checklist and say there was no “proof beyond reasonabe doubt” of the guilt of the accused? Or do they search for WISDOM on GRAY AREAS and ferret out truth from another perspective. In tagalog: sino ang mas kapani paniwala? na wala sila web at lahat ng mga akusado sa crime scene o malaki ang kikitain ni alfaro sa pag tahi at pagdiin sa mga akusado? If I were the justices, I would look at it from this point of view. If “proof beyond reasonable doubt” can not be reached in its textbook definition, then we may RELAX it a bit. Its not going AGAINST jurisprudence. I think not.
    When solomon ordered the baby sliced in half, our justices would have cried foul and would have condemned solomon to death, if he were not a king. No law or statute would have approved of such. Such was what our 7 justices have done in vizconde’s case. They would rather play it safe just as marquez stressed that “even if guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, the freed convict cannot be automatically considered innocent.” Thus the baby would be in the orphanage, and the real mother is out there sick and worried for her baby. This is exactly how our justice is served. I am not saying that its an easy task what these justices had to go through. What I am saying is that, where gray areas exist, wisdom instructs us to see BEYOND the usual text and evidence. The lower court can not see beyond this, generally. Come to think of it, this is what should separate the SC from the rest of the courts, and us.

  2. There is no such thing as better legal perspective. Only legal convenience. T. Jefferson had long considered that jurists are also humans. They have their own party affiliations, loyalty and corps. It was convenient for them to side with GMA for reason of past favors, just like the jurists of Marcos era who kept siding with Marcos on presidential decree issues. In the case of Webb et. al., the majority sees the legal convenience of putting their best foot forward in the light of bad press it has been receiving lately.

    My favorite professor Perfecto Fernandez, said that on every issue, there are always two sides. Both can be argued forcefully and convincingly. It is only a question of numbers that determines the result. But the majority position is like a tectonic plate which tries to seek its own level as time passes by. You see the Dred Scott case in 1987 as purely a “property” issue (slaves are properties). The era was then profiting from slave labor. It was only in much later years that “slave” owning becomes a “human right issue”, because the north was believed to be jealous of the south which were profiting from slave labor at the expense of the north which were paying for their labor, hence the temperament had changed and led to the abolition of slavery.

    The minority now can be a majority later. What freed Webb and Company was not the legal brilliance of the jurists, but is numbers, for if you read the 4 dissenting opinions, you can also see unmistakable legal gems in them.

  3. Its an imperfect world and its the least that can be done to find the ‘nearest’ truth. So, i put my faith in the majority decision. But lately, SC decisions are becoming inane. Topping: the Corona appointment and Plagiarism ‘intent’, and finally this ( not mentioning the others ). Probably because I am an engineer and not a lawyer, that’s why im missing the rational of the visconde ponente. Or probably I am one of the many who sees questions and more questions in the way aj. abad discredited alfaro, found fault as the prosecution did not provide possible answers on how the housemaid perform chores at 4am or why the garage bulb was loosened or why hubert et al scavenged for the main door key or why hubert et al broke the glass ….etc. I can fairly provide logical reasons like the rest of us. So my question is basically, WHAT IS IT REALLY THAT discredited alfaro and enough to TOTALLY disbelieve her. Ponente says she was an nbi agent. So? What CONCRETE ACT of alfaro made her tainted and biased to TOTALLY discredit her. Ponente mentioned nothing. And if it did in small measure, it was unclear. If, for argument’s sake, alfaro’s integrity was doubtful, would it not have been logical to remand it back to rtc with their questions? Again, I have faith in majority decisions. But this one lately, and the rest, makes me think that either our SC justices are without sense or with sense but corrupt.

    • I am glad that there are still people like you who have not been brainwashed by the media.

      I am a law student, and was vastly appalled by the decision of the SC on this case that I toyed with the idea of stopping my studies. I am not naive, I know that the justice system is full of corrupt lawyers and judges. But for the highest court of the land to show this blatant disregard for justice, it was just too much to handle. There were plenty of well-settled rules on Evidence that have been thrown out of the window by the Supreme Court when they decided on this case.

      For instance, deciding the credibility of a witness is the task of the lower court and definitely not of the Supreme Court. Only the lower court who tried the case and listened to the testimonies can assess completely whether a witness is lying or credible. The Supreme Court should have not touched the issue of credibility of the witness, especially since the Court of Appeals affirmed the material findings of the RTC.

      The Supreme Court also used the fact that there were inconsistencies in Alfaro’s written affidavit and testimony as a proof that she was not credible. They seem to have forgotten another well-settled rule that in case of discrepancies between the written affidavit and the open-court declaration of a witness, the testimony will prevail and the discrepancies between the two cannot be regarded as a sign that the witness is not credible. Alfaro is not the only witness who gave testimonies that were inconsistent with the written affidavit. There have been hundreds of decided cases wherein the witness delivered testimonies different from their affidavits yet they were still considered as credible.

      • .. i totally agree. discrepancies is a mirror of unvarnished narrative. it is when every details in the narrative dovetail on every aspect of the incident that you suspect that the witness was “well-rehearsed” “coached” and “scripted”.

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