MANILA, Philippines?(UPDATE) Lauro Vizconde fears that the men who killed his wife and two daughters in 1991 may be freed because a Supreme Court justice is purportedly trying to convince colleagues to reverse the conviction issued by then Parañaque Judge Amelita Tolentino.
Vizconde refused to identify the justice who had inhibited himself from the case, but said that before the latter became an official of the tribunal, he testified in favor of principal accused Hubert Webb during the trial at the sala of Tolentino, who is now a justice of the Court of Appeals.
The widower claimed in separate interviews on Thursday with the Philippine Daily Inquirer at his residence in BF Homes, Parañaque City, and Radyo Inquirer over ?Kumpadres? with Willy Matawaran and Chito dela Vega that it was another Supreme Court justice who had told him of the purported ongoing effort to have Webb acquitted.
He also said his relatives were disturbed by efforts of Webb?s supporters to gather sympathy for the rape-murder convict via social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr. (See related story on this channel).
A ?Justice for Hubert? webpage on Facebook, for example, features videos of Webb in Disneyland bearing the date July 3, 1991, and footage of him at Lake Tahoe dated April 6, 1991, in an apparent effort to show he was somewhere else when the crime was committed.
Webb and at least six others were given life sentences for the murders of Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela, 18, and Jennifer, 7, in June 1991.
Mother and daughters died of multiple stab wounds. Carmela was said to have also been raped before being stabbed. (See What Went Before on this channel).
Late October, Webb?s lawyers submitted a motion for acquittal, claiming his constitutional right was violated when the state, ?through negligence or willful suppression, failed to produce the semen sample that could have proven [his] innocence.?
?Ginagapang? (Strongly lobbied)
Speaking in Filipino, Vizconde said ?so many things can still happen because some forces are out there to reverse the truth.?
He claimed that the justice helping Webb was using the delay caused by the Supreme Court?s decision to defer a review of the case to convince other justices to reverse the conviction.
?There are some people, especially those with ties to the accused, who are moving [to cause an acquittal],? Vizconde said. ?These people are being seen with a justice who testified [in favor of the defense]. He is the one trying to find a way to influence the outcome of the review, I believe.?
Aside from being a witness for the defense, the justice is related by affinity to Webb. The justice?s wife is a cousin of the convict?s mother, Vizconde said.
Reached for comment, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said: ?I think that is pure speculation. I don?t think any justice can influence another in deciding the guilt or innocence of an accused. And justices are known to decide in accordance with their respective conscience.?
The widower said it was his anxiety over the outcome of the case that had forced him to go to the media.
Asked whether he believed that the justice was taking advantage of the delay in the resolution of the case, Vizconde replied in the affirmative with certainty: ?Tiyak na sinasamantala. Hindi lang ginagapang, inaayos niya.( I am very sure he?s taking advantage. He?s lobbying and fixing the case.)?
Asked again why he seemed so sure, Vizconde said his ?reliable information? had come from another justice of the high court.
Vizconde also said the Internet webpages indicating sympathy for Webb were ?an obvious attempt at mind conditioning.?
?My relatives said the contents insist on his innocence. They want to change public perception,? he complained.
Vigil for justice
Vizconde and a number of sympathizers kept vigil in front of the Supreme Court building in Manila on Monday night, in anticipation of the tribunal?s final decision on the case.
But the move was not meant to put pressure on the high court, Vizconde said.
?I just want justice for my lost loved ones,? he said, adding:
?I am appealing to the justices. We had our vigil rally just to remind them that we are praying that the Lord may enlighten their mind so they will pass a fair and just resolution.
?There was no intention to interfere in their decision. We would like to show them that we are praying at least to get a just and fair resolution. I think it was misinterpreted by the justices, that we are pressuring them. But no, that?s not our [intention].? With a report from Inquirer Research and Nikko Dizon