NBI to inventory physical evidence in 19-year old Visconde massacre

April 24, 2010 10:41 pm 

MANILA, April 24 –The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will still make an inventory of physical evidence in the gruesome killing of the Visconde family in Paranaque City 19 years ago before submitting for DNA analysis the semen specimen taken from one of the victims.

The inventory will determine if the semen taken from the cadaver of Carmela Visconde in 1991 is still in the NBI custody.

NBI Deputy Director for Technical Services Reynaldo Esmeralda said he already issued a directive to start conducting inventory of physical evidence.

The SC granted Friday the request of Hubert Webb, one of the convicts in the Visconde massacre, to submit for DNA analysis the semen specimen taken from Carmela's cadaver.

Esmeralda said if the semen specimen were still in the custody of the NBI, the next step to be taken by his office is to conduct initial test to know if it still intact and not contaminated.

He said inventory and DNA analysis may take time since it is a long process.

Esmeralda said: “It has been a long time. So we will see if it is with us. I asked them to check on our evidence especially in 1991 and 1992,” he said.

He said the NBI would immediately do the tasks for compliance to SC’s directive.

Esmeralda said the inventory DNA analysis may take time and the NBI and University of the Philippines – Natural Science and Research Institute (UP-NSRI) would ask the SC to give them extension if they could not beat the 15-days period given to them to submit report.

The NBI official said he could not assure if the semen specimen remained intact since it has been around 19 years-old.

In the higher interest of justice, the SC opted to assume the role of a trial court by proceeding with the trial of facts instead of remanding the case to the lower court with regards to the matter of DNA analysis, according to SC administrator and spokesman Midas Marquez.

“This is an exception to the rule. The SC should remand the case to the lower court. But in the higher interest of justice, the Court decides to proceed with the trial of facts on the issue of the DNA testing. This is an almost 19-year-old case to expedite the resolution of the petition. It was only in 2007 when the SC issued a ruling to recognize the DNA testing. During the pendency of the case at the lower court and at the CA, the DNA test is relatively new science and at that time the SC has yet to rule whether the Court will accept DNA test for evidence,” Marquez told reporters.

The SC also directed the NBI to assist the parties in facilitating the submission of the specimen to the University of the Philippines – Natural Science and Research Institute, Diliman, Quezon City .

“The NBI and the UP-NSRI are hereby ordered to report to the Court with 15 days from notice thereof regarding compliance with and implementation of this Resolution,” said Marquez.

“It does not mean that whatever result of the DNA test will acquit or convict the appellant Webb but will only aid in resolving the petition,” he said.

In a 15-page resolution, the SC said, “It is well to remind the parties that a flawed procedure in the conduct of DNA analysis of the semen specimen on the slides used during the trial for microscopic examination of human spermatozoa may yield an inclusive result and thus will not entitle the accused to an acquittal.”

“More important, allowing Webb to utilize the latest available DNA technology does not automatically guarantee an exculpatory DNA evidence, but simply to afford appellant Webb the fullest extent of his constitutional right to due process,” the SC said.

It was recalled that the prosecution's objection to the request of Webb concerns regarding possible contamination and proper preservation of the evidence in the custody of the NBI.

In 2007, the Court of Appeals (CA) denied the reconsideration plea of Webb and five others, Hospicio “Pyke” Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Antonio “Tony Boy” Lejano and Peter Estrada to overturn their convictions in the Vizconde massacre.

The Parañaque Regional Trial Court had meted them up to 40 years behind bars (reclusion perpetua) for the rape-slay of Carmela Vizconde and the killing of her mother, Estrellita, and younger sister, Jennifer, inside their house in Parañaque City on June 30, 1991. (PNA) RMA/JES

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