Semen specimen taken from Vizconde not in NBI custody

April 27, 2010 8:06 pm 

MANILA, April 27 –The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Tuesday the semen specimen in the 19-year-old Vizconde massacre is no longer in its custody as the bureau turned it over to the custody of a trial court in 1996.

In a five-page compliance and manifestation filed at the Supreme Court (SC) Tuesday afternoon,NBI Deputy Director for Technical Services lawyer Reynaldo Esmeralda said the semen specimen was already turned over to Paranaque Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 274 in 1996.

“The desired semen specimen/vaginal smear taken from cadaver of Carmela Vizconde (including all original documents (1.e autopsy and laboratory reports) and photographs) is no longer in the custody of the NBI,” said Esmeralda.

The pieces of evidence were submitted to Paranaque RTC Branch 274 by then NBI Medico Legal Chief Prospero A. Cabanayan, when he testified on direct and cross examinations on January 30, 31, February 1, 5,6,7, 1996 before the said Court.

The NBI filed the compliance and manifestation before the SC en banc following the granting of the petition of Hubert Webb to conduct DNA analysis on the semen specimen taken from the cadaver of Carmela Vizconde.

SC Administrator and spokesman Midas Marquez said the NBI compliance and manifestation will be submitted to the High Court. “Will wait for next action of the Court,” he said

Last Friday, the High Court 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 (UP-NSRI).

Marquez said the SC has exempted the case from the rule prohibiting it from trying factual evidence in a case.

Webb is the son of former Senator Freddie Webb who lauded the decision of SC to order the DNA analysis.

"In the higher interest of justice, the Court opted not to remand this case to the trial court anymore, as what should have been done under ordinary procedure. The reason is to expedite the dispensation of justice in this case," he said.

The NBI Medico-Legal Division Laboratory Report No. SN-91-17 showed that “microscopic examination made on the said specimen gave positive result for the presence of human spermatozoa.”

“As part of the standing operating procedure (SOP), fluid was taken from the vagina of Carmela Vizconde for purpose of semenology. At that time, year 1991 the NBI is not thinking about the DNA. The first time the NBI acquired DNA (equipment) was sometime in 1996,” said NBI Medico Legal Chief Dr. Florencio Arizala.

Arizala said that Dr. Cabayanan claimed the three glass slides (semen specimen) were properly turned over.

“It (evidence) is air-dry. There is proper turnover,” said Esmeralda.

Arizala said: “While semonology is almost perfect science, still in sperm pooling, we cannot determine how many different sperms there in the semenology. We can only differentiate human spermatozoa from that of the animal. But with the DNA testing, it can be established how many different sperms and who may own these,” he said.

Asked to comment if the semen specimen remains intact and uncontaminated considering the 19-year-old period of storage, Esmeralda said he cannot give categorical answer.

“We cannot speculate. But as far as the NBI is concerned, it is properly turned over and these are placed three glass slides and there was cover slip,” he said.

Marquez said it is possible that the DNA testing could take months to come up with a result.

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.

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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