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By Vittorio Hernandez
Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
New evidence uncovered in the reinvestigation of the Vizconde Massacre is not sufficient to bring back to jail the son of a former Filipino senator and six others previously convicted by a regional trial court for rape and murder.
The Philippine Supreme Court acquitted Hubert Webb and six others in 2010 for the rape and murder of Carmela Vizconde in 1991 and the death of Carmela's mother and younger sister.
The decision was heavily criticized, prompting President Benigno Aquino III to order a reinvestigation of the case.
After a six-month inquiry, the National Bureau of Investigation found from transcripts of tapes of the Bureau of Immigration that Webb, the son of former Senator Freddie Webb, never left the Philippines in 1991.
The Webbs used documentary evidence such as passport stamps and certification from U.S. authorities to establish Hubert's absence from the Philippines when the gruesome crime was committed on June 30, 1991.
The magnetic reel tapes, which records passenger arrivals and departures, confirmed that Hubert Webb did not leave the country. Instead, it established that his father left for the U.S. on March 1991, while several Webbs - including Hubert - returned to the Philippines in October 1992. .
There were also several eyewitness accounts of the younger Webb's presence in the country when the crime took place, as well as hearsay accounts of Hubert blaming his parent's neglect of him as the reason for his becoming wayward.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday that while the evidence shatters the alibi of Webb that he was in the U.S. when the crime was committed, it did not establish that he was at the crime scene.
She admitted the evidence was significant enough to cast doubt on Webb's alibi, but pointed out that under the principle of double jeopardy, Webb and his companions could not be retried for the same crime because the Supreme Court ruled with finality on the case and the 20-year prescription period ends on Thursday, June 30.
But the prescription period does not apply on some of Webb's companions, who are still at large, de Lima clarified.
Senator Webb questioned the reliability of the NBI data because it confirmed Hubert's arrival, but not departure. Webb's wife, Elizabeth, accused Lauro Vizconde, the father and husband of the victims, of concocting lies.
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