Smaller and Smaller Courtrooms

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Date Submitted: 09/19/2011 09:47 AM

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Jose Angelo M. Castro ••• Lit 161 B ••• Mr. Alfred A. Yuson ••• 12/21/10

Smaller and Smaller Courtrooms

Public reactions were mixed when the Supreme Court of the Philippines acquitted Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb and 6 others of the Vizconde Massacre. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanking God that the nightmare of wrongful imprisonment finally released from its bony clutches the 7 accused. I cannot imagine the task of rebuilding their lives, having the rug pulled from under them before their feet were even sure they had already landed firmly on the ground. I know many my age did not have the luxury of maturity watching the developments of the police investigation; I suppose they share my sentiments: what could be more horrific than spending in prison the prime of one’s life? Nothing, I submit.

But those who followed religiously the nightly news reports in the 1990s found themselves reacquainted with their disillusionment. The verdict in the courthouses of their minds is unanimous and without a spot of bother: guilty as a child with one hand in the cookie jar, and the unrelenting Webb, an existentialist by now, a murderer whose cold blood can chill the very air around him. This knowledge is as true as the Gospels and as real as the everyday, as they saw every last shred of evidence shown on national television, every testimony replayed on the radio. To them, this acquittal is nothing short of a second massacre—an insult to the long bereaved, the murder of the already dead.

I found myself reflecting how such a gap existed. Surely, generational differences cannot account for such polarized understandings of the truth. This all is part of our recent collective consciousness, and thus, time has not accorded himself the opportunity to blur so recent a memory with doubt. I figure that the only real difference lay in the modes of access to information. The young ones find what they know from court records (or summaries thereof, which abound online) and opinion columns of...