Task force formed to revisit Vizconde case-A A +A
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) created on Monday an interagency task force that will revisit the 19-year-old Vizconde massacre case.
The task force's formation was reached following a closed door meeting with representatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government, which will co-head the task force, on Monday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who presided over the meeting, said the NBI is now preparing a matrix of all existing evidence that it gathered at the start of its investigation of the case from the victims’ residence in Paranaque in 1991.
On June 29, 1991, Estrellita Vizconde was found dead, with multiple stab wounds, along with her two daughters, then seven-year-old Jennifer and 18-year old Carmela, who was raped before she was killed.
During the reinvestigation, De Lima said the NBI will start summoning former NBI directors from the time the crime was committed, up to the investigation stage before the case reached the court. These former NBI officials are Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Mariano Mison, and Epimaco Velasco.
They will be summoned on December 22 to get their insights about their investigation of the case.
Mison had earlier said that it was Hubert Webb and six others who perpetrated the killings. Velasco, on the other hand, believed that Webb is innocent of the charges.
The Supreme Court on December 14 acquitted Webb and his co-accused Antonio Lejano, Michael Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Peter Estrada, and Miguel Rodriguez of the rape with homicide charges.
A team was also formed to track down prosecution witness Jessica Alfaro and the two other supposed co-accused of Webb -- Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura -- who were charged but were never arraigned as they were at large when the criminal information was filed before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court in 1995.
It was the position of the defense panel, however, that Filart and Ventura are just fictitious characters created by Alfaro to pin down Webb, especially since efforts to locate them proved futile.
“That team is supposed to confirm the real identity of the two suspects. Do this two really exist and yung profile nila, sino ba talaga sila? Why were they considered as suspects? And if their identities are confirmed, we should track them down,” De Lima said.
De Lima earlier said the focus of reinvestigation of the case may involve the two earlier batches of suspects in the massacre -- the Barroso robbery gang and the group of construction workers that did some renovation work for the Vizcondes.
Even though Webb and company would still be part of the reinvestigation, the center of investigation should focus on these two groups, she said.
“We will ask the PNP to trace the whereabouts of the previous suspects… I also asked the possibility of accessing Jessica Alfaro. She’s not anymore in the Philippines. But we asked her to come back for further questioning,” she said.
Meanwhile, De Lima also said that she may order a separate probe to hold accountable the NBI custodians who were supposed to preserve the semen specimens taken from Carmela’s body to prove that she was raped.
The semen samples were earlier presented before the trial court during the Webb trial, but when the Supreme Court required the NBI to produce it for DNA analysis, the NBI said that it was no longer in their custody. (JCV/Sunnex)