Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ex-NBI chief frowns on Vizconde reinvestigation

The head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) when the agency filed charges against Hubert Webb and six others in connection with the Vizconde massacre case on Wednesday frowned on the ongoing reinvestigation on the high-profile case.

Suntok sa buwan iyan (That’s an exercise in futility). We charged the right persons," said Mariano Mison, who was NBI director from July 1995 to February 1996.

It was during Mison’s stint when Jessica Alfaro, the so-called star witness that broke the case in favor of the prosecution, surfaced to pin down Webb and the other suspects in the killings of Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela and Jennifer on June 30, 1991.

Mison as well as his predecessor in the NBI, Epimaco Velasco, were at the NBI compound in Manila on Wednesday to meet with the panel reinvestigating the Vizconde massacre case.

President Benigno Aquino III ordered the reinvestigation after the Supreme Court acquitted Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Hospicio Fernandez, Peter Estrada, and former policeman Gerardo Biong in the case. 

Two other suspects, Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura, remain at large to this day. The SC had no action on them because they were not tried before the ParaƱaque Regional Trial Court. 

The SC made the acquittal on the grounds that the prosecution, through Alfaro’s “incredible testimony," was not able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. 

Mison said that during Wednesday’s closed-door meeting with the task force, he maintained that Webb, son of former Senator Freddie Webb, and the others were the real suspects, and that Alfaro was a credible witness. 

“Jessica was with the group. I made interviews that told me I did the right thing. She’s the main witness," he said. 

He also said Alfaro’s “lapses" in her testimonies only indicate that she was not coached by the NBI in pinning down Webb as accused by the defense camp. 

“Considering that the event happened four years [before Alfaro appeared in 1995], there could be lapses in her statement. But it shows that we did not teach Jessica," said Mison. 

The former NBI director also hit the supposed “media blitz" that depicted Webb as a celebrity after he walked free from the New Bilibid Prison Tuesday last week. 

“I told media, ‘You’re not fair.’ I see Hubert on television strolling in the mall and giving autographs. What’s the role of media there? Is that newsworthy?" Mison asked. 

Velasco contradicts Mison

Contrary to Mison’s claim, Velasco insisted that Webb’s group was innocent and that another group of suspects was behind the Vizconde murders. 

Velasco, who headed the NBI from July 1992 to March 1995, said the group of construction workers led by Engr. Danilo Aguas, and former policemen Ruben Pineda, Angel Viaje, and Rodolfo Collado carried out the killings. 

Aguas was the engineer that helped build the Vizconde residence in ParaƱaque, where the crime took place. 

Sa ngayon, sa akin [ang may kasalanan] ang mga workers. Yung account ng pangyayari kina Webb ay imposibleng mangyari (On my part, the culprits are the workers. The account pinning down Webb’s group is impossible)," said Velasco. 

De Lima: 2 theories

Justice Sec. Leila de Lima said the reinvestigation task force is having “difficulties" because of Mison and Velasco’s conflicting testimonies. 

Still, she said she was expecting that the reinvestigation will focus on two scenarios: “One is the suspects are really Webb and his group. The other is it’s not Webb. If it’s not Webb, then who?" she said. 

De Lima likewise said she understands if Mison thinks the new inquiry is an exercise in futility. 

“When he said that, it’s because he believes that the trial court made the right decision. He meant that no other than Webb and his group are the suspects," she said. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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