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Ex-VP Guingona to SC: Reverse Webb's acquittal to give justice to Vizconde

January 7, 2011 2:34pm

"Justice for Lauro Vizconde, justice for all."

Thus said former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona on Friday as he asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider its acquittal of the seven men previously convicted for the 1991 Vizconde massacre.

Guingona said he believes that Hubert Webb, son of former Senator Freddie Webb, and his six other co-accused are guilty of killing Lauro's wife, Estrellita, 47, and his daughters Carmela, 18, and Jennifer Vizconde, 7, in June 1991.

Guingona served as justice secretary from May 1996 to February 1998. The Vizconde massacre case was on preliminary investigation period starting in 1995.

The trial proceeded at the Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 274 from 1997 to 2000.

The Parañaque court convicted Webb and six others in January 2000 and the Court of Appeals sustained the guilty verdict in December 2005.

On December 14, 2010, the Supreme Court acquitted Webb, and the six others: Antonio Lejano, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Hospicio Fernandez, Peter Estrada, and former policeman Gerardo Biong.

Guingona joins Vizconde appeal

In a three-page motion for reconsideration in intervention, Guingona asked the SC to overturn its December 14 ruling and to hold a re-deliberation on the Vizconde massacre case.

Guingona was accompanied by Lauro Vizconde and lawyer Pete Principe when he filed the motion.

"The principle of re-deliberation or re-examination by the Honorable Supreme Court becomes apparent when justice and truth is unmistakably this Court's paramount concern in order to preserve the full faith of the Filipino people to the entire justice system," said Guingona in his motion.

Guingona also filed an accompanying motion for leave to intervene, which serves as Guingona's permission to intervene in the case because he is not a direct party to the matter.

Before Guingona, four of Vizconde's supporters had asked to intervene in the case to get the high court to reconsider its ruling.

They are: activist priest Robert Reyes, Sister Mary John Mananzan of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), Bishop Evangelio Mercado, and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

According to them, while they may not be parties to the case, they believe that Webb and six of his co-accused are guilty.

On Friday, Vizconde said he was delighted that the former Vice-President agreed to help him.

"I'm really thankful to the former Vice-President for being very supportive. He has been very supportive since the case was being tried at the lower court," said Vizconde.

Guingona: Alfaro is a credible witness

The SC acquitted Webb and the six others on the basis that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The SC added that the testimony of Jessica Alfaro, the so-called star witness to the murders, was unreliable and "incredible" because of its inconsistencies.

The SC instead gave weight to the testimony of the late NBI agent Artemio Sacaguing, who testified that Alfaro herself confessed she played out the role of the witness because she could not produce the real eyewitness.

However, on Friday, Guingona told reporters that Sacaguing only tricked Alfaro into making the confession. Guingona said that when Alfaro realized that she was being tricked, she withheld her statements to Sacaguing.

"She got so afraid, so she held back. Hindi niya sinabi lahat (She did not say everything)," Guingona said of Alfaro.

Guingona: No double jeopardy

Guingona filed the motion for reconsideration in intervention, even if there are questions on whether it is legal to appeal Webb's acquittal and that of the six others.

The 1987 Constitution prohibits prosecuting an accused twice for the same crime. An acquittal can also no longer be appealed because the accused will be subjected to double jeopardy.

However, Guingona said "there are many Supreme Court" decisions that exempt the Vizconde case from the double jeopardy prohibition. However, he did not name any.

Asked whether it was proper to intervene even if the SC has already rendered its decision, the former Vice-President and justice secretary said the SC can relax its rules.

"Considering the importance of this case, considering the pursuit of truth, we should relax the rules and believe the Supreme Court should reconsider and make this an exception," said Guingona. – MRT/VVP/JV, GMANews.TV
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