Webbs: Stop lies, lunacy
Hubert Webb is considering filing a case to disbar Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for “subversion of the rule of law” by questioning his alibi that led the Supreme Court to acquit him in the gruesome Vizconde massacre 20 years ago today (Thursday).
“What she has done is not only actionable in terms of citation for contempt by the Supreme Court but an outright disbarment. And this is one of the options we are presently evaluating,” said Jose Luis Agcaoili, one of Webb’s lawyers.
Webb, 42, said “evil, cruel’’ people were out to ruin his life again.
“You better stop this lunacy, these lies,’’ he stressed in Filipino. “Have pity not on us but on yourselves.’’
During a press conference at a Makati City restaurant on Wednesday, Webb’s family and lawyers slammed De Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for “reckless, irresponsible and completely unfounded statements.”
Hubert’s father, former Sen. Freddie Webb, said his family chose to speak out a day after De Lima and the NBI presented new “evidence’’ undermining Hubert’s alibi because “in our country, silence is a sign of guilt.’’
The Webb camp said that the agencies under the Department of Justice involved in the six-month reinvestigation of the case where the accused were scions of wealthy and influential families conveniently selected pieces of evidence to pin down Webb anew.
De Lima and the NBI on Tuesday said the inquiry ordered by President Aquino found new witnesses and documentary evidence that purportedly showed that Webb was in the country during the 1991 killings.
Estrellita Vizconde, 47, and her daughters Carmela, 18, and Jennifer, 7, were found dead with multiple stab wounds on June 30, 1991, in their home in Parañaque City. Carmela was also raped.
In a ruling on Dec. 14, the Supreme Court said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of Webb and his six coaccused and ordered them freed after 15 years in prison.
Lauro Vizconde, 72, who was in the United States working as cook while looking for a school there for Carmela when his family was massacred, said he felt vindicated by De Lima’s new findings although he realized Hubert and his coaccused could not be tried again under the principle of double jeopardy.
Hubert said that he hoped the NBI and the DoJ would stop attacking him and his family.
“I lost 15 years of my life. I never saw my nephews grow up. Our family is tired. We really are. We are exhausted. I can’t even walk around without fear of getting attacked,” he said.
“These people have destroyed our family. I don’t know if anyone can grasp how evil these people are. They are still doing the same things they’ve been doing,” he added. “They fight us with ghosts. Where will we go to get justice?”
Asked about Lauro Vizconde’s demand for him to make a public apology, Hubert said: “I can’t apologize for something I didn’t do. But I’m sorry if he thinks I’m guilty, I’m really sorry for that.”
“Mamamatay na lang ako, hindi talaga ako ang gumawa nun (I could die but I really did not do it,” he said, adding that he also wants the truth to come out, “so Mang Lauro can also get justice for his family.”
Hubert’s father added: “If there’s anyone who should apologize, it’s the NBI because they were the ones who created all these lies. They should apologize not only to Vizconde but also to us.”
Hubert was also accompanied by his mother and brothers Fritz and Jason during the media briefing.
“What happened yesterday is something we can’t let pass,” said lawyer Demetrio Custodio of the announcement by De Lima of new evidence. “It is unprecedented in so far as the government and its branches are concerned … It was a public declaration that to our mind completely subverted the authority of the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Under the circumstances under which she made the statement, which is a subversion of the authority of the Supreme Court, it may constitute the case for disbarment and that is one possible course of action that we are considering… if we find it sustainable,” he said.
“Suffice it to say right now that we believe the line has been crossed and something has to be done, if not for the redemption of this family, at least for the preservation of the rule and the principles of law in future instances.”
De Lima and the NBI on Tuesday showed a picture of the passport, noting the difference between the signature and spelling of Hubert’s name compared to other travel documents.
The elder Webb said his son earlier went to the Department of Foreign Affairs to have his passport renewed. They learned there that his old passport was being subpoenaed by investigators.
“I wasn’t able to sleep, I was very nervous … I told my children, ‘yayariin ang (they will fix the) passport,’” the former senator said.
The father showed his son’s US driver’s license, which was stamped June 14, 1991. This license, he said, will not be issued if the person is not physically available.
Showing a stamp on Hubert’s passport of his arrival in the United States, Freddie Webb said: “You can’t manufacture these kinds of things.”
The family also questioned the investigators’ magnetic reel tapes that did not show the name Webb in the passenger manifest for his departure to the US on March 9, 1991. However, the same reel showed he did arrive in 1992.
“If he arrived, then tell us when he left for the US, tell us,” Freddie Webb said, stressing that the reinvestigation done by the NBI was “incomplete.”
Tired of it all
“As much as we don’t want to react to accusations without basis, for us, silence is a sign of guilt, we need to speak out,” he explained. “We are very tired of this. But we cannot not fight back. We just want to have a simple, ordinary life but here they come again.”
“The DoJ and the NBI conveniently selected pieces of evidence to paint a picture of Webb still a suspect,” Custodio said, adding that what happened on Tuesday was a complete attack on the Webb family by no less than De Lima and NBI officers.
“You are telling citizens that it’s okay to come up with evidence even after the Supreme Court already has a final decision. This creates a bad precedent,” the lawyer added.
Agcaoili likewise accused De Lima of “electioneering,” saying she was “sacrificing fate for her own political ambitions.
“Those who have come before you to do this have paid a stiff price. We caution you to step back and not cross the line. There’s a divine rule of karma, those who have oppressed these innocent men … God forbid you suffer the same,” he warned De Lima.
Agcaoili also accused De Lima of mental dishonesty and outright laziness.
“If she had taken the effort to read the separate concurring opinions (to the Supreme Court decision), then she would have at least had the humility to accept that greater minds than all of us here have reviewed and analyzed the evidence,” he said.
He said they believe that the move of De Lima and NBI aims to convict Hubert in the minds of the public.
Likewise, Agcaoili warned the new witnesses against the possibility of suffering the fate of former state witness Jessica Alfaro. He said the NBI left Alfaro alone to fend for herself after using her.
Another Webb lawyer, Zenaida Ongkiko-Acorda, said the new witnesses were not credible because they came from a “polluted source.”
“[These witnesses were] produced by the same NBI who produced Jessica Alfaro, whom the SC called a lying witness,” she said. “This is the same NBI that lost the semen sample Hubert offered which would have proved his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.”
“And besides, these witnesses came out only 20 years after the crime was committed… why only now when they had 15 years of trial to present these witnesses?” she said.
She stressed that their evidence—94 witnesses and some 400 documents—proving that Hubert was in the United States during the time of the Vizconde massacre were more “superior” than the NBI’s supposed evidence.
“Their investigation was incomplete,” she said. “The magnetic tape reels show that Hubert returned to the country in 1992, thus proving he must have left sometime before.
Acorda said the reinvestigation was probably just a face-saving measure on the part of the authorities.
“The NBI has a stake in this case. They want to uphold the credibility of their institution. They probably just want to prove that they are doing their jobs… but if they were really doing their jobs, they should have presented these evidence during trial,” she said.
Freddie Webb asked the NBI and the DoJ to name the witnesses in the name of fair play.
“Now they have four Alfaros which we can’t examine,” he said.
The six witnesses announced by De Lima and the NBI on Tuesday used aliases and were not personally present during the press conference.
They presented their findings two days before the 20-year prescription period today (Thursday).