November 25, 2011 · Posted in: General

‘See No Evil’
The Herson Hinolan case

ON SATURDAY, November 26, 2011. the all-news channel GMANewsTV will air the second installment of the Media Killings Series of documentaries produced by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

With every hard-hitting commentary he dished out on the radio airwaves, Herson Hinolan was the walking, talking symbol of fearlessness and invincibility. The “Bombo Boy” of Aklan would hit at anyone from politicians to vice lords, most especially if such titles were held by one and the same person.

“Bombo Boy” was shot and critically wounded on November 13, 2004 while he was attending a town fiesta in Kalibo, Aklan. Two days later, Hinolan would succumb to his wounds.

Police got a major breakthrough in the case when three witnesses came forward to identify the alleged gunman. They all pointed to Alfredo Arcenio, the mayor of the small town of Lezo seven kilometers to the west of Kalibo. For a while, everyone thought that the case was as good as closed.

But the case was just about to get much more complicated. One by one, the witnesses recanted their testimonies, until only one witness was left with the witness protection program (WPP). For some reason, witnesses were changing their minds.

The second installment to the PCIJ Media Killings Series deals with the difficulties faced by the government’s witness protection program, as well as the complications of finding, keeping, and maintaining witnesses in a country where court cases drag on for more than one generation.

Under a system that relies heavily on testimonial evidence in the absence or lack of forensic evidence, all forms of external pressure are sometimes applied to weaken the resolve of witnesses, prosecutors, or even of relatives of the victims.

The Hinolan documentary, “See No Evil,” airs on Saturday, November 26, at 9:55 p.m. on GMANewsTV (Channel 24 for SkyCable subscribers).

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