Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hubert Webb's Press Conference - Genuine Justice at Last!

Free at last!  
It was an early Christmas for the Webb family and for all who believe in justice.

Some 15 years ago Hubert Webb, the son of former Philippine Senator Freddie Webb, was convicted in court for his involvement in the notorious Vizconde Massacre in the Philippines.  For those of us who were in the Philippines and familiar with the case, it was a conviction based not on fact or evidence but on the exploitive media who convicted Webb in the court of public opinion long before he ever sat down before the bar of justice...or what was supposed to be a bar of justice.

My long time and trusted friend, Retired FBI Special Agent Bob Heafner, will be most pleased with this Philippine Supreme Court decision.  Bob had handled all the US leads in the case as the LEGATT (Embassy-speak for "Legal Attaché") in Manila during the investigation by the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police.  The FBI's work on the case proved beyond any doubt that young Hubert Webb was in the United States at the time of the murder; but their evidence was not allowed to be presented in the court by the sitting judge, a woman whose name escapes me at the moment but who clearly deserves to be forgotten in the dustbins of history.  Why wasn't the FBI's evidence allowed, you ask?  Because the learned (???) judge ruled that the U.S. Secretary of State was not there in court to testify to its veracity.  The judge, clearly predetermined to find the defendant guilty, set the standard for the introduction of the FBI's evidence irrationally and impossibly high.  Higher than the international norm--the evidence was presented with the appropriate seal of the United States and attested to by the U.S. State Department which is normal--and clearly so high as to prevent its introduction as evidence.  Other than the tabloid--actually it was so bad that it is almost an insult to real tabloid papers to use that descriptive term--journalism which had already convicted Webb, we may never know exactly why the judge was so determined to prevent any exculpatory evidence from being introduced in this case.  We--and I use this as inclusive of all the U.S. law enforcement officers at the U.S. Embassy--had our suspicions and even had a couple of phone calls from informants telling us who was behind the frame-up but we had no proof nor did we have the authority to investigate it.  It was, after all, a matter on the internal affairs of the Republic of the Philippines and we could only assist as requested by Philippine authorities.  Suffice it to say that then Senator Freddie Webb, Hubert's father, had previously embarrassed numerous personalities in the Philippines, some with a significant amount of power and wealth, with his Senate hearings on a drug case, a 5,000 kilogram methaqualone seizure, which I handled as the DEA Country Attaché.  Could it have been revenge?  Quite likely but absent a death bed confession by the real killers or someone who was behind framing young Hubert, we'll never know.

Today, however, I am smiling.  The Philippine Supreme Court ruled, as lawyer friends in the Philippines had always assured me it would, wisely and correctly if but slowly.  I consider this ruling a wonderful personal Christmas present, as I'm sure does Bob Heafner, for the satisfaction that I feel in finally seeing justice done.  I am sure that the happy impact of this pre-Christmas ruling on the Webb family is greater than any of us can imagine.

What still troubles me is that the trail of the actual murderers is now ice cold.  The authorities at the time took (read "were directed to") the easy and popular route and any evidence that didn't point to Webb, et al., was discarded and is now lost.  This means that the father who lost his family, Lauro Vizconde, will most likely never see the real killers brought to justice.  It also means that those killers have been free to rape and kill again all this time.  Mr. Vizconde should be in our prayers this holiday season as his loss was even greater than the injustice suffered by Hubert.  (It should be noted that Mr. Vizconde remains absolutely convinced that it was Webb, et al., who murdered his wife and two daughters.  I attribute this to the horrendous publicity of the time and that which he was told by Philippine officials in support of their case theory which played heavily on his emotional state.)  For Lauro Vizconde I am truly sad.

As for Hubert, all I can say is Merry Christmas!  You deserve it.

As a matter of disclosure, as the Country Attaché for DEA at the U.S. Embassy in Manila I did work with then Senator Webb on drug issues and grew to like and respect him.  We've not been in contact for over a decade, but I've no doubt that a terrible weight has finally been lifted off his shoulders.  God Bless you and your family this Christmas, Freddie.  I'm sure that it will be a great celebration.

Follow the link for to watch the video.


Search Engine Marketing said...

We noticed that this topic just came up and this blog was helpful. I will be bookmarking this in the future for some of our projects.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Hubert is my brother and it was the happiest moment in our familly's life. For 15 years, we continuously spent every Sunday visiting Hubert in prison, just to be able to celebrate our regular family Sunday lunch's. Every Christmas/New Year, we would often ask ourselves, "Will this be the last year we'll be spending here?". And last year, it was!!! Thank you very much for the belief and support. I remember how then Ambassador Negrponte had told my father of the existence of the "note verbale" document, since we were unaware that our Department of Justice, had requested the investigation then. We finally obtained a copy and as you have mentioned, this was dismissed by the judge (Judge Tolentino) because she used the "Rules of Evidence" as the basis for non acceptance of the document (requiring the person who signs a document to personally appear in court). Even then NBI Director Mison, did not accept the document since as he states, the US Stamp can easily be falsified in passports. When one 'investigative reporter" asked him "But weren't there records attesting to his entry and exit in the US." He arrogantly replied "That is the defense job to prove that why should I do that for them?" well I guess even if he was the director of the NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, it is not his job to INVESTIGATE!!.. Thank you very much for believing in my brother's innocence and having the courage to step up.. Sincerely,
Michael Webb

Papa Bill said...

You're very welcome, Michael. Thanks for providing more on the case and the "investigation" that led to a terrible miscarriage of justice. Your brother and family paid a terrible price and the sad part of it is, we may never know why; and because of that the real criminals may never be made to answer for their crimes in this life.