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G.R. No.

176864
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
vs.
HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN,
HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA and GERARDO
BIONG, Appellants.
December 14, 2010

FACTS:

On june 30, 1991 the highly celebrated Vizconde Massacre happened with the brutal murder of
Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela and Jennifer in their home in Parañaque. In an
intense investigation, a group of suspects were initially arrested by the police, but were
eventually discharged due to suspicions of frame up. Four years later, The National Bureau of
Investigation announced the resolution of the crime as they presented a star witness Jessica M.
Alfaro who pointed at the accused (herein appellants) Webb et.al. as the main culprits. She also
included police officer Gerardo Biong as an accessory to the crime. Relying on Alfaro’s
testimony, information for rape with homicide was filed by the public prosecutors against
appellants.

The Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City Branch 274, presided over by Judge Tolentino took
over the case. With Alfaro’s detailed narration of the events of the crime, the court found her
testimony credible, noting that her delivery are spontaneous and straightforward. On January 4,
2000, trial court rendered judgment finding accused (herein appellants) guilty as charged,
imposing them the penalty of reclusion perpetua while Biong, as an accessory to the crime, was
given an indeterminate prison term of eleven years, four months and one day to twelve years.
Damages were also awarded to Lauro Vizconde.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, with a modification on
Biong’s penalty to six years minimum and twelve years maximum, plus increased awards of
damages to Lauro Vizconde. A motion for reconsideration on the same court was also denied,
hence the present appeal on the Supreme Court.

On April 20, 2010, the Court granted the request of Webb to submit the semen specimen taken
from Carmela’s cadaver on DNA analysis, believing it is under the safekeeping of the NBI. The
NBI, however, denied that the specimen is under their custody and that it was turned over to the
trial court. The trial court on the other hand, denied the claim that the specimen was under their
care. This prompted Webb to file an urgent motion to acquit denying Webb of his right to due
process.

ISSUES:

a. Whether or not the Court should outrightly acquit Webb, due to the government’s error in
losing the semen specimen, thus constituting deprivation of evidence that would exonerate him.

b. Whether or not Jessica Alfaro’s testimony as eyewitness in describing the crime and
identifying the alleged culprits is entitled to belief.

c. Whether or not Webb’s alibi is presented sufficiently and should root out Alfaro’s testimony.

HELD:

a.) No. Webb is not entitled to acquittal for the failure of the State to produce the semen
specimen at this late stage. For one thing, the ruling in Brady v. Maryland that he cites has long
be overtaken by the decision in Arizona v. Youngblood, where the U.S. Supreme Court held that
due process does not require the State to preserve the semen specimen although it might be
useful to the accused unless the latter is able to show bad faith on the part of the prosecution or
the police. Here, the State presented a medical expert who testified on the existence of the
specimen and Webb in fact sought to have the same subjected to DNA test.

b.) No. Alfaro’s testimony according to the court was well spun in lies, hence unreliable. She
was, at the time she revealed her story, working for the NBI as an "asset," a stool pigeon, one
who earned her living by fraternizing with criminals so she could squeal on them to her NBI
handlers. One Atty. Sacaguing testified that when the officers one day teased her about being
dormant, she became piqued and suddenly claimed that she knows someone who knows about
the massacre. But when the said “someone” was not presented, she told Sacaguing that she might
as well assume the role of her informant. Alfraro never refuted such testimony.

The court held that her testimony was tailor made to suit the crime scene which when carefully
looked upon by a prying eye would reveal the discrepancies and suspicious details. She even
manifested in her testimony emotional pendulum swing that indicates a witness who was
confused with her own lies. Even other witnesses did not corroborate Alfaro’s incredible
testimonies.

c.) Yes. Webb’s alibi was presented convincingly and not rebutted by the prosecution and should
be taken into consideration as against an old dictum in the judicial system that an alibi cannot
stand against positive identification of him as the rapist and killer of Carmela and mother and
younger sister. The court held that not all denials and alibis should be regarded as fabricated.
Indeed, if the accused is truly innocent, he can have no other defense but denial and alibi. So
how can such accused penetrate a mind that has been made cynical by the rule drilled into his
head that a defense of alibi is a hangman’s noose in the face of a witness positively swearing, "I
saw him do it."? Most judges believe that such assertion automatically dooms an alibi which is
so easy to fabricate. A positive declaration from a witness that he saw the accused commit the
crime should not automatically cancel out the accused’s claim that he did not do it. A lying
witness can make as positive an identification as a truthful witness can.

Webb’s documented alibi altogether impeaches Alfaro's testimony, not only with respect to him,
but also with respect to Lejano, Estrada, Fernandez, Gatchalian, Rodriguez, and Biong. For, if
the Court accepts the proposition that Webb was in the U.S. when the crime took place, Alfaro’s
testimony will not hold together. Webb’s participation is the anchor of Alfaro’s story. Without it,
the evidence against the others must necessarily fall.