NBI, PNP teams probe 3 sets of Vizconde slay suspects

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2010 03:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 21 2010 11:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Inter-Agency Task Force assigned to reinvestigate the June 30,1991 Vizconde massacre case on Tuesday formed 6 teams or 3 parallel teams to look into 3 sets of suspects linked to the murders.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will have their own team for each set of suspects. She said that while the NBI and PNP teams will be working separately, they will be coordinating with each other.

The 3 sets of suspects are:

1. the Barroso Akyat-Bahay gang;
2. the group of construction workers with engineer Danilo Agwas tagged as mastermind; SPO3 Angel Viaje, PO3 Rodolfo Colado, Ruben Pineda; and,
3. the group of Hubert Webb, et al who were recently acquitted by the Supreme Court.

De Lima admitted if the reinvestigation will point to Webb, et al. as the perpetrators, they can no longer be prosecuted consistent with the doctrine of double jeopardy.

"If that's the outcome, di na sila pwedeng kasuhan muli, but at least alam ng tao ang totoo na sila ang gumawa," she said.

She added that the investigation could help with Lauro Vizconde's plan to file a motion for reconsideration (MR) on the SC's acquittal order. She, however, noted: "Suntok sa buwan na yung MR."

The justice chief said there is a need to form separate NBI and PNP teams per set of suspect for check and balance. She said the first two sets were apprehended by the PNP and the last group, the group of Hubert Webb, was the product of an NBI task force.

Special team for Ventura, Filart

De Lima said that aside from the above-mentioned teams, there will be a special team within the NBI intelligence division that will focus on suspects Artemio Ventura and Joey Filart.

She said the special team will have two main tasks: 1) find out whether Ventura and Filart actually exist; 2) profile them, meaning, find out if indeed they know Webb, et al among other details.

When these two tasks are accomplished, de Lima said this team will conduct a manhunt to locate Ventura and Filart.

The justice secretary clarified that this will not rule out any other angle or any other suspects outside the 3 sets of suspects

She said the task force will have to move fast considering the one-year prescription period, which will lapse on June 30, 2011.

Former NBI task force members invited

The inter-agency task force has also invited members of a former NBI task force that first investigated the Vizconde massacre. De Lima said the old task force members will not be part of the investigating team but will be among those investigated.

Among those invited are former NBI Director Epimaco Velasco and Mariano Mison to shed light on the NBI investigation on the Vizconde massacre.

The DOJ chief said the probe will also check if a semen sample found on rape victim Carmela Vizconde as well as other evidence were indeed lost while in the custody of the NBI or other law enforcers.

Alfaro, boyfriend face investigation

De Lima said the task force will try to bring back Vizconde massacre star witness Jessica Alfaro to the country to participate in the renewed probe. She, however, said that extradition might be an option after Webb and others said they plan to sue Alfaro for testifying against them.

She said the teams will also look for Carmela's alleged boyfriend, as testified by Alfaro. In her testimony, Alfaro said suspect Hubert Webb got mad after learning that Carmela had a boyfriend.

The justice chief wondered if Carmela indeed had a boyfriend, then why didn't he surface or help the prosecution.

De Lima said the task force plans to invite other witnesses used in the conviction of Webb et al such as the Webb family's laundrywoman and security guards in Parañaque.

She said inviting Webb and the other acquitted suspects is no longer a priority of the task force although they could still be summoned to clarify some issues. She said Webb and the others are expected to maintain their innocence.

She said the priority will be to look into the evidence, testimonies and records of the case.

Other witnesses like the Webbs' laundry woman, security guards will also be invited.

Members of the inter-agency task force will meet for another closed-door meeting at the NBI on Wednesday afternoon.