Anticrime group opposes Carpio as Chief JusticeBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A new, if unsurprising, twist to the search for a new Chief Justice came Tuesday in the form of a letter sent to the Judicial and Bar Council by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) opposing the nomination of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
In 2010, VACC founding president Lauro Vizconde accused Carpio of using his influence to pressure other high-court justices to vote for the acquittal of Hubert Webb, the principal suspect in the 1991 murder of Vizconde’s wife and two daughters.
The tribunal acquitted Webb “with finality” on Dec. 14, 2010, largely because of questions concerning the credibility and personal background of Jessica Alfaro, the prosecution’s star witness.
Vizconde had told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it was ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, Carpio’s rival in the tribunal, who had tipped him off concerning Carpio’s alleged intervention.
Old boys’ club
The VACC’s letter to the JBC Tuesday, however, made no mention of what Carpio was supposed to have done in the Vizconde massacre case. It instead accused the senior magistrate of “bias,” saying he “represents the ‘old boys’ club’ in the Supreme Court.”
Vizconde said a copy of the VACC’s letter of opposition has been sent to President Benigno Aquino.
“The President was the one who instructed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to conduct a reinvestigation [of the Vizconde case] and it was just last year when she told a press conference [that] Hubert never left the country before the massacre happened, contrary to the claim of defense lawyers that he was out of the country,” said the 74-year-old widower who now lives alone in the house in BF Homes, Parañaque, where his family was killed.
“That’s why we sent a copy to the President. Out of courtesy, because the reinvestigation he ordered helped us in letting the truth come out, despite the acquittal by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Vizconde himself was not a signatory to the VACC’s letter. It was signed by Dante Jimenez, the anticrime group’s president and founding chair.
But Vizconde’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, said his client plans to submit a separate letter to supplement the VACC’s opposition to Carpio’s nomination.
The VACC said it was opposed to Carpio’s nomination “because we are gravely concerned that the expected reforms in our criminal justice system that is seriously perceived to be incompetent and corrupt may not be forthcoming with him at the helm of the Supreme Court.”
“We believe that Justice Carpio will be a biased Chief Justice because he represents the ‘old boys’ club’ in the Supreme Court in the same league as the impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona,” the anticrime organization added.
Jimenez was cited in contempt and fined P30,000 in early 2011 for cursing the magistrates who voted to acquit Webb during an impromptu news conference soon after the verdict was announced.
Jimenez also corroborated Vizconde’s claim that Corona was the one who had warned Vizconde of Carpio’s alleged lobbying for Webb’s acquittal.
In separate affidavits, Jimenez and Vizconde said they went to visit Corona in his chambers in 2010 soon after he assumed the post of Chief Justice in order to congratulate him.
Both said it was during this visit that Corona warned Vizconde of Carpio’s bias and alleged intervention.
The VACC said the recent removal of Corona from the Supreme Court “inflicted a strong blow to the already infirm institution and threatens to further erode its credibility as a dispenser of justice to victims.”
“The appointment of Justice Carpio will just be an empty changing of guards, a change of names and personalities that maintains the ugly status quo,” it warned.
Carpio, as the most senior among the Supreme Court justices, is believed to be among the front-runners in the search for Corona’s replacement.
He has consistently refused to comment on Vizconde’s accusations about his alleged intervention in the verdict that led to Webb’s acquittal.
Vizconde claims that Carpio and Webb’s father, the basketball player and ex-senator Freddie Webb, are close associates.
“Remember that Carpio even acted as a witness for the defense during the trial,” the widower said.
Vizconde was working as a cook in the United States when his wife Estrelita, 42, and daughters Carmela, 18 and Jennifer, 7, were attacked in the early hours of June 30, 1991. With Tetch Torres, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted: 8:01 pm | Tuesday, July 10th, 2012