Now this is not to spoil your Christmas. This is just to give you a touch of reality of the Philippines’ justice system, which was especially put to full glare after the Supreme Court released its decision on the Visconde massacre case.
Last December 14, after almost two decades of studying the case, the Supreme Court finally acquitted the seven accused- appellants who spent 15 years in jail for homicide and rape. Who does forget the heart-crushing 1991 Visconde massacre, with Jessica Alfaro standing as the star witness, whistle-blowing the details how these young men before, coming from our society’s influential families, killed Mang Lauro’s wife and his two daughters.
Basically, the decision was made after finding inconsistencies on Jessica Alfaro’s statements, and questioning her motives and credibility as the main witness of the prosecution. Basically, it was about looking into whether or not there were reasonable doubts on the guilt of the accused, and not really about finding doubts on their innocence, which, we do respect as a court room nature.
That being said, since the prosecution failed to establish more consistent and corroborative statements from its witnesses to press the charges to Hubert Webb and some others, the suspects cannot be really held guilty of the crime. That is not to say that they are innocent. That is only to say that there were not much more reliable proofs to conclude that they are guilty.
I had the chance to read the People vs. Webb decision, and the way the evidences were analyzed by the Supreme Court, there were inconsistencies noted with Alfaro’s statements, which significantly weakened the prosecution’s stance.
To follow through, I also watched the Filipino channel to see the tears of relief of the acquitted and their families, and to see the unfortunate Lauro in tears, after he is bombarded, yet again, with the second tragedy of his life after his family was massacred last 1991. Now I am not a lawyer, not even a law student. Reading the decision of the Supreme Court made me torn somehow.
In as much as I feel for Mang Lauro’s demise after a long-fought battle, I, seeing it in an objective way, believe that the defense has given sufficient facts and evidences to prove the accused otherwise. And since I do not have a good grasp of criminal law (although I really want to learn more about it), the least I could bring up here is to query what else can our justice system do if they weren’t able to solve this puzzle after two decades. Is there really anything that works for the country? Twenty years, and until now, who killed Mang Lauro’s family remains a question.
But what if, Hubert Webb and those other six guys, are really innocent? If they are, they already lost 15 years of their lives, those time being when they could have built their own families,or established good careers. All those years, their families grieved seeing them in prison.
All those years, they were deprived of the social pleasures and personal growth. It must be unfair to them, to be punished for something they did not do. But what if they are really guilty?
Is that to say that people, as long as they have good lawyers, may still get away from the crimes,they commit? Is that to say that court decisions are really not crime deterrents after all?
And how is Jessica Alfaro right now? If it were true that she fabricated all her stories, does it, in the end, boomerang to the court which investigated the case for it took them too long to figure out that she just made up her statements? But what if, she was really telling the truth?
Now that the decision is released, how would a woman embrace such grim reality, after she mustered all the bravery to stand up for the case, which just turned futile? How would the other witnesses feel about it, when they could not trust the system to trust them enough and protect their statements? Will this be a precedence that other witnesses will rather keep their mouths shut, be blinded, and let justice slip away, even if they hold the truth?
Meanwhile, here’s Mang Lauro, who has exhausted his energy and resources just to give justice to his wife and his daughters’ ill fates.
Twenty years, and it turned bootless. We cannot blame him if he accused the Webb and the families of the accused paying the judges money to reconsider and reverse their decision. We cannot blame him if he went disillusioned of our justice system.
This is about him, as the head of the family he lost last 1991, fighting for justice, and at the very least, wanting to know who really killed his loved ones. This Christmas season certainly brings different emotions to the people involved in the Visconde case.
The Webbs will be happy, Mang Lauro will be disheartened, and Jessica, I do not really have a clue about her. The two decades spent to delve on the Visconde case provided Hubert, Mang Lauro, Jessica, and all else who are involved different struggles. They’ve been hurt, they’ve triumphed, and they’ve experienced defeats on different occasions.
On the one hand, as long as the killers remain at large, Hubert, and Mang Lauro, and even Jessica still remain victims of faulty investigative procedures and blemished justice system.
This is just one story of the many criminal cases pending in our court; of the many faces who can’t smile yet while they are still waiting for the verdict, and of the many lives deprived to be happy, or at least be at peace, because of a very slow justice system.