After 20 years, DNA test to resolve Vizconde Massacre?
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has approved the petition of convicted gang rapist and murderer Hubert Webb to submit a semen sample for DNA analysis.
The convict's father, the former basketball player and Senator Freddie Webb, was happy after learning that the Supreme Court had ruled favorably on his son's petition.
The Webb family is hoping that a DNA analysis and comparison with the semen sample gathered from the crime scene will help determine who really raped and killed Carmela Vizconde, along with her mother and younger sister in 1991.
Hubert had asked the courts for a DNA test to compare his semen with those gathered from the crime scene, but he was repeatedly rebuffed.
It was only in 2007 when the Supreme Court accepted DNA tests as "admissible evidence" in court cases.
Lauro Vizconde, the father of the family that Hubert was convicted of murdering, expressed disappointment with the High Court's decision.
He told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview that Hubert's petition was a mere delaying tactic.
"Webb's defense lawyers ignored my suggestion to conduct a DNA test during his trial," Vizconde said. "Why are the Webbs asking for one now after all this time?"
He still believes that nearly two decades after the death of his family and Webb's imprisonment, justice has yet to take its course.
Webb questioned Vizconde's sentiment. "How can he call it a delaying tactic? My son is serving a prison sentence."
Acquittal or conviction?
Lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, SC spokesman and court administrator, explained that the DNA analysis will not decide Hubert's acquittal or conviction. It will only aid in the final resolution of the case.
He added that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which has custody of the semen sample from the crime, must send it to the UP National Science Institute for comparison and give a report of the result to the court in 15 days.
"(This) does not automatically guarantee an exculpatory DNA evidence, but simply to afford appellant Webb the fullest extent of his constitutional right to due process," Midas said.
However, there is doubt whether the semen sample kept by the NBI can be used for the DNA test after so many years in storage.
There have been instances that experts of the UP National Science Institute had inconclusive DNA test results because the sample they tested had been contaminated or improperly stored.
Estrellita, Ana Marie Jennifer and Carmela Vizconde were gang raped and killed in the Vizconde's home in Parañaque City on June 30, 1991.
Lauro Vizconde had just arrived from working abroad when he read in a newspaper that his family was killed.
On January 6, 2000, Hubert, along with 8 other accused, were found guilty of the crime, now known as the Vizconde Massacre.