As far as the law is concerned, the case against the Webbs etal is closed. Their guilt, according to Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez, has not been proven "beyond reasonable doubt", hence, their acquittal. So, its back to zero for Mang Lauro Vizconde, the surviving victim of this brutal massacre which happened almost twenty years ago.
The thing is, the State, led by the Department of Justice, is giving Mang Lauro false hopes. Justice secretary Leila de Lima has ordered a re-investigation. De Lima also ordered a manhunt against the two others who remain at large--Artemio Ventura and Joey Filart. De Lima said flight is a sign of guilt and the arrests of these two suspects may shed light into the gruesome crime.
What the DOJ fails to state is--they may have to conduct a re-investigation and file a strong case before the 20-year prescription period for heinous crimes ends on June 2011.
This is a gargantuan task for the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) simply because of the fact that they would have to review case files as old as fifteen years. They may have to look back in time, re-visit the crime scene and re-construct what happened on June 1991.
However, they have a unique advantage now---NBI's investigative tools have clearly modernized. NBI would really have to use these modern tools to shed light into this case. This is the only remaining remedy for the NBI to salvage its reputation.
There is still some hope left for Mang Lauro. Fact is, next year, if all government agencies would cooperate and unite and put all their resources together to finally piece this murder puzzle, Mang Lauro still has a fighting chance to know who really killed his family members.
Some questions from our readers:
1. Is it still possible to file a case against Hubert Webb and the rest of the suspects acquitted in the Supreme Court decision? No. There is a principle in law called double jeopardy which prevents the State from filing a similar case against them.
The State is barred from filing a case of, say rape with multiple murder or homicide against the Webbs simply because this crime was imputed on them before. As far as the law is concerned, the Vizconde massacre suspects led by Webb have been acquitted from this crime.
2. What if there is new evidence that really points to them as the perpetuators of the crime, would a crime still be permissible to be filed against them? New evidence gathered still within the period prior to prescription is deemed a new case. If, however, this still points to the same set of suspects deemed acquitted in another case, this presentation of new evidence will not matter any longer since the defense would just clearly state that this should have been presented during the trial of the old one.
However, if there is sufficient evidence to show that the presentation of this new evidence was prevented by the defense and/or the prosecution, then, a different case may be filed by the state.
This different case, if it warrants the inclusion of the suspects in another case, may be allowed by the Courts, provided, however, that the Courts have jurisdiction over the suspects AND the facts of the new case is totally different from the old one.