VIDEO: Is Hubert Webb a Victim of Rush to Judgment?
I won’t make a long commentary on this issue. I’m not really familiar with the facts of the case, but what I’m aware of is that the media had a field day during the controversial and sensational trial and then sentencing of Hubert Webb, the principal accused in the rape-murder of Carmela Vizconde and the murder of her mother and sister. Not all guilty go to jail. No one knows how many innocent souls are now paying a high price for a crime they never committed.
Now that the controversial Vizconde case was resurrected, the Webb family hopes to achieve justice for Hubert. However, I was astounded by the pronouncement of RTC Judge Amelita Tolentino who opposed the proposed DNA examination on trivial, unscientific grounds. The judge who sentenced Hubert to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua argued that the “proposed DNA examination would not serve the ends of justice but only lead to complication and confusion of the case.” To back her argument, she cited a recent (i.e., 1997) pronouncement by the Supreme Court that DNA was a relatively new science and therefore not yet accorded official recognition.
Justice Renato Dacudao, who penned a dissenting opinion, came to the conclusion that Webb et al. were not guilty of the crime of rape with homicide.
Here are some highlights of Dacudao’s dissent:
“The prosecution’s case is inherently weak, built as it is upon the flagrantly improbable and incredible story woven by a shifty and shuffling government star witness; and second, because the defense was able to prove convincingly that it was physically impossible for … Hubert Webb to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission.
“… I am far from being impressed with the veracity or trustworthiness of the testimony of the prosecution’s ‘star witness,’ Jessica Alfaro, considering her history of drug addiction, vis-à-vis the plain and palpable inconsistencies, contradictions and improbabilities in her testimonies, plus the fact that it took her four years to come forward to testify. The long delay goes against the very grain of human experience. Her drug addiction … ought to have warned the court not to rely on her memory, which could or might have been impaired or addled by substance abuse.
“… I am thus constrained to wonder what strange casuistry or esoteric logic inspired and impelled the trial court to give its unconditional vote of confidence to Ms Alfaro (indeed to take her testimony as gospel truth).
“… It also bothers me that Ms Alfaro’s narration of the events … was in many points uncannily similar to that set forth in the extrajudicial confessions or ‘sinumpaang salaysay’ [sworn statements] executed [in 1991] by certain members of the so-called ‘Akyat-Bahay Gang.’ (The similarities: three vehicles used; same behavior toward security guard, climbing fence and opening gate; putting out garage light; breaking the glass in the door; woman shouting ‘Magnanakaw’ [Thief] and killed; young girl crying and shouting and killed, etc. One of the participants surrendered and executed his affidavit because, by his account, he was bothered by his conscience. — SCM)
“… Ms Alfaro’s testimony puts too severe a strain on the credulity of this Court. I think it takes the faith of 20 men to believe her extraordinary tale.
“… As between the incredible and implausible testimony of the government’s ‘star witness’ Jessica Alfaro and the public or official documents presented by … Hubert Webb, I am more inclined to give greater weight and credence to the latter. The passport and certifications, aside from the fact that they enjoy the presumption of regularity, they being public or official documents passed through the hands of several government authorities who acted thereon in accordance with their solemn duty. In view of this, I find it hard to imagine how these could have been fabricated — unless one has such tremendous power and influence strong enough to sway all those people in the offices concerned, including those in the United States. The point is that the prosecution in the case under review has not adduced a shred of evidence that any of these … official documents was a fabrication. Nor yet that the Webb family — especially former senator Freddie Webb — has such tremendous power or influence to sway all the people in the offices concerned, including those in the US Department of State and in the US Department of Justice.
“… While the defense of alibi as a rule deserves scant consideration … it is not always … without merit; in fact, when it is fortified by well-nigh incontrovertible documentary evidence and juxtaposed with the vagaries, improbabilities and uncertainties of the prosecution’s evidence, as in the case under review, the defense of alibi must be accepted as meritorious, and should carry the day for (Webb).”