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Vizconde massacre investigator insists witness Alfaro was credible

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:41:00 12/31/2010

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Massacre, Crime, Judiciary (system of justice)

MANILA, Philippines?Some crooked agents of the National Bureau of Investigation who ?became traitors and turned their backs? on the bureau spelled the doom of the Vizconde massacre case, according to a former NBI official who headed the investigation of the gruesome killings.

Lawyer Pedro Rivera, who retired from the NBI as its acting deputy director for technical services in 2002, did not hide his dismay over the Supreme Court?s December 14 ruling exonerating Hubert Webb and six others of the crime.

?We did our job to the best of our ability. We did not manufacture any witness. We were only after the truth and nothing more,? Rivera told reporters before Lauro Vizconde asked the tribunal to reverse its decision on Wednesday.

?Since then, I have never wavered in my belief. I am morally certain that Jessica Alfaro was telling the truth and that she is a credible witness,? he added.

Along with seven others, the retired NBI agent volunteered as witness in support of Vizconde?s motion for reconsideration and submitted his sworn statement.

Rivera was the operations officer of Task Force Jecares, which then NBI director Antonio Aragon created on May 15, 1995, shortly after Alfaro surfaced.

The special investigating team, named after Vizconde?s murdered daughters Jennifer and Carmela, and wife, Estrellita, was headed by then NBI-Metro Manila chief Arturo Figueras.

In his affidavit, Rivera defended Alfaro from the high court?s conclusion that she was an ?incredible witness.? He stood firm on her credibility as eyewitness to one of the country?s most heinous crimes.

He also dismissed as lies the testimony of a former colleague, Artemio Sacaguing, that Alfaro was an NBI asset who just made up her story against Webb et al.

?Agent Sacaguing had a record of notoriety in the NBI which prompted his transfer to remote places of assignment? until his early retirement,? Rivera said.

Soon after he left the bureau several years back, Sacaguing died of cancer abroad, according to Rivera.

?It?s just unfortunate that he?s already dead. He brought the truth with him to his grave,? Rivera told the Inquirer.

He added: ?It was also unfortunate that some NBI agents turned their backs on the institution. They became traitors just to discredit Jessica.?

According to him, Sacaguing was never part of the NBI team assigned to investigate the Vizconde massacre and that his former colleague took Alfaro?s statement in April 1995 without the presence of a lawyer.

?Sacaguing broke the guidelines in taking affidavits from witnesses. His intention was very, very dubious,? he said.

Rivera chided former NBI chief Epimaco Velasco, who recently came out in the media accusing Alfaro of being a bogus witness.

Velasco also challenged the statement of another former NBI director, Mariano Mison, who stood his ground in saying that Alfaro was with Webb?s group when the murders occurred.

?Epimaco Velasco?s statement was uncalled for. He never personally spoke with Alfaro and the other witness. How can he say that she was not credible?? he said.

Rivera said he was ?angry and shocked? upon learning of the magistrates? decision, adding he was confident that the high court would uphold the conviction of Webb et al.

?The Supreme Court decided on facts that are not its venue and expertise. It should just (review) questions or errors of laws, not questions of facts,? he said. ?It?s sad to say that the justices have become ambivalent.?

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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