The Vizconde massacre revisited

ABS-CBN News Channel

Posted at Dec 14 2010 01:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 15 2010 06:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Three murder victims. One star witness. Six convicted suspects.

On June 30, 1991, Estrellita Vizconde and her two daughters: Carmela and Jennifer, were found lifeless inside their home in Parañaque.

The details of how they were killed were grim.

The 47-year-old Estrellita had 13 stab wounds. Eighteen-year-old daughter Carmela was raped, and had 17 stab wounds. The youngest victim, 7-year old Jennifer had 19 stab wounds.

The police arrested at least two sets of suspects, but all of them were released due to lack of evidence.

But in 1995, 4 years after the gruesome crime, a supposed eyewitness surfaced.

Under oath, Jessica Alfaro pointed to six men, all from well-off families, as the culprits.

Alfaro said Hubert Webb, son of former senator Freddie Webb; Antonio Lejano II, son of actress Pinky de Leon; Hospicio Fernandez, son of a retired commodore; Michael Gatchalian and Miguel Rodriguez, sons of prominent lawyers; and Peter Estrada, son of a businessman, were behind the rape and murders.

Alfaro also pointed to two others - Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura - but both remain at large.

Alfaro testified that after a drug session with the group on the eve of the murders, Hubert Webb hatched his plan to rape Carmela. Eventually, the group ended up killing the three.

But for the Webbs, this account is simply impossible.

The defense produced voluminous documents and presented dozens of witnesses in court to prove that Hubert was in the United States at the time of the Vizconde massacre.

But for Parañaque RTC Judge Amelita Tolentino, an alibi is nothing compared to an eyewitness account.

On January 2000, Judge Tolentino found Webb and his co-accused guilty for the Vizconde massacre, and sentenced them to life in prison.

Also found guilty of burning bed sheets and tampering with other evidence in the crime was Gerardo Biong, a Parañaque City policeman.

The Webbs raised the case to the Court of Appeals, but in 2007, in a 3-to-2 vote, the CA denied Webb's motion for reconsideration.

In April this year, the high court had approved DNA testing to be performed on the semen specimen obtained during autopsy from the victims.

But the National Bureau of Investigation said it no longer had the specimen, as these were remanded to the Parañaque trial court.

On October 28, 2010, Webb filed an urgent motion for acquittal, asserting that with this development, Hubert's guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

On Tuesday (Dec. 14, 2010), Supreme Court acquitted the suspects. -- ABS-CBN News Channel