Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Vizconde Massacre puzzle

SC acquits Hubert Webb, 6 others in Vizconde massacre case

Hubert Webb, 5 others freed

MANILA, Philippines – Hubert Webb and five others convicted in the massacre of a family in 1991 walk out of prison after spending 15 years in jail.

Aside from Webb, the Supreme Court also acquitted Antonio Lejano II, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada, Hospicio “Pyke” Fernandez.

The sixth was Gerardo Biong who was released recently after serving 15 years in jail.

How the SC justices voted

The votes for acquittal-dissenting-inhibits:

No, I wouldn't dwell on the merits or demerits of the decision for or against, whether the decision reveals the truth or not. What strikes me is the fact that some of the most educated, most intelligent people in the land see the case differently, and come up with contrasting conclusions. Same evidence, varying appreciations, contrasting conclusions. It doesn't give me any comfort in the fact that a majority decision prevails. I am more concerned that a decision was promulgated in a lower court; that decision was challenged yet was affirmed by the appeals court by the slimmest of margins (3-2); all of which was eventually overturned (after 15 long, long years) by a vote of 7 to 4. In essence, the 7 Supreme Court Justices say that the trial court judge was wrong, the appeals court was wrong, and the 4 dissenting Supreme Court Justices are wrong, and all those topnotch lawyers in one way or another, are all wrong. Grievously wrong. How come all these people under those circumstances, with the same hard facts before them, with the same rules of procedure, experience and jurisprudence behind them... disagree mightily in an epic manner? It is a horrible miscarriage of justice, regardless of whether one is for or against the decision.

A sober reminder that we live in an imperfect world, and that true justice can be found elsewhere.


sunnyday said...

I know very little about the case and hardly remember the details I knew when the crime was committed and reported by the media in the '90s. Recently, all I read about it are a couple of news articles written in the late 90s and early 2000 as the case was filed and evidence and testimonies were picked apart.

What I find really confusing is that the details provided by the star witness (based on the news article) was quite vivid. And yet her testimony was discredited (bakit nga ba?).

Also, yesterday on FB, all the comments I read about the acquittal reflected wishful sentiments of "may the real killers be found" and laments like "15 years wasted behind bars." I'm still puzzled as to how people arrived at the conclusion that Hubert Webb and his companions are innocent, and that the "real criminals" are on the loose. I wonder what I'm missing. I really don't get it.

So, it's heartening to read what you wrote in the end:

"A sober reminder that we live in an imperfect world, and that true justice can be found elsewhere."

WillyJ said...


I am reminded of the classic Japanese film 'Rashomon', wherein a crime is witnessed by four individuals yet they describe the crime in four contradicting ways during the trial. Eventually the question is not only about
who is telling the truth, but about what really is the truth.

btw, thanks for the fliers. I will distribute them at the parish.