Back in 1991 there was a massacre that killed a number of members of a family here in the Philippines. The crime was brutal and received huge media coverage at the time. I can remember sort of following this case when we lived in the States. Feyma had just come to live in the States a few months before the murders, and the case caught my attention.
A group of young men were accused of the murders, the leader of the pack was Hubert Webb. Webb was in his 20’s at the time that he was convicted in the case, in 1995. He and the others that were found guilty as his accomplices were sentenced and sent to prison.
Webb was from a wealthy family. His father, Freddie Webb was a PBA Basketball player in his younger days, and at the time that Hubert was convicted of murder, Freddie Webb was a Philippine Senator. So, they were (and still are) both wealthy and powerful. From everything you hear, people who are wealthy and powerful in the Philippines can buy justice, and do not end up in jail. But, Hubert certainly did end up in jail.
There was a lot of controversy during the trial. The chief witness against Webb and his cohorts was Jessica Alfaro. Alfaro’s story changed a number of times during the trial. In fact, at first she had said that she could produce a person who had witnessed the crime, but later she was unable to produce such a witness and at that point she remembered that it was she who had witnessed the crime. Not too convincing, it would seem.
Well, last week there were developments in this case, which was nearly 20 years ago. The Supreme Court had heard an appeal from Webb and the others, and the group was subsequently acquitted of the crimes. That’s right, on that very day the group was set free. It was all live on TV. I happened to be watching the news when the report came on, and it caught my interest, so I ended up watching the special report for a couple of hours or more.
Freddie and Hubert Webb had a news conference. Hubert was asked if his father had paid somebody off to gain his freedom. Freddie replied, though, if his father had wanted to get his freedom through a bribe, why would he not have paid the bribe years earlier instead of letting his son sit in jail for more than 15 years? This reply, and a number of other replies that the Webbs gave to questions gave me the feeling that indeed a mis-justice had been carried out in this case. Then, when the news started explaining about how the only witness had changed her story, well, it seemed that it was all very unfair.
But, the ace in the hole was revealed to me a bit later. Hubert Webb was in the USA when the murders happened! His Passport was stamped by US Immigration before the murders occurred, and he did not leave until after the murders had been done! The Passport and the stamp of US Immigration was even verified and authenticated by US officials during the time of the trial. For some reason, the Judge did not consider the US Government’s authentication to be very valid, though. As I saw one attorney point out last week… it would not be so surprising to find that Philippine officials had been bribed to fake an immigration stamp, but it is nearly unthinkable that the US Government could be paid enough money to do such a think. What would they have to gain, after all?
So, Hubert Webb and the others are now free after 15 years in jail. While I have no inside information or anything, after seeing the various reports and such, I believe they were innocent all along. To have lost 15 of the best years of their lives was indeed a miscarriage of justice! Webb has a son who was 2 years old when he was incarcerated. The young man is now 17 and does not even know his father. What a shame.
Of course, I am very sorry for the loss that has been endured by the Vizconde family, it is a tragedy. However, if it was an innocent man who was convicted, that does not serve the victim family either.
Merry Christmas to all involved in this case. I hope that justice can be found these many years later.