Vindication the second time around for Lauro Vizconde | Inquirer News

Vindication the second time around for Lauro Vizconde

By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 04:22 AM June 29, 2011

Lauro Vizconde now wants to take it easy but a stronger urge remains—to see and talk to the witnesses who saw Hubert Webb in BF Homes when he was supposed to be in America.

“Of course, I’m still thankful that they finally surfaced but I still want to ask them how come it took them so long to tell the truth to the authorities,” said the feeble-voiced widower who lost his family to drug-crazed addicts 20 years ago.

The 72-year-old Vizconde, who was in the United States working in a South Carolina restaurant when his wife and two children were murdered, also has the answer to this question.


“It’s difficult to compete with money and power,” he said wistfully, while playing with an unlighted cigarette on Monday afternoon at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters.


Vizconde had asked the Inquirer to be present during an update arranged for him and his three nephews by agents involved in the NBI reinvestigation President Aquino had ordered.

Respect anonymity

NBI probers had told Vizconde a day before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima held a press conference to announce the new evidence that they had identified witnesses who saw Webb in various areas at BF Homes Subdivision at the time he was supposed to be learning to live independently in the United States.

Living with disappointment for the past two decades has taught Vizconde to brace for the possibility that some of the witnesses might not measure up to his expectations.

“I’m in a very awkward spot. The new witnesses offer me hope. At the same time …” he trailed off.

In ambush interviews Tuesday after the De Lima press conference, Vizconde frequently used the word “vindication” when asked for his reaction.


“This does not mean I no longer believe in the story of (star witness) Jessica Alfaro. She has helped us so much. I still believe that Hubert Webb was the perpetrator, even if none of the new witnesses caught him in the act,” he said.

But in conversations with relatives, Vizconde reiterated that the urge to see the witnesses was hard to suppress. He had to content himself with the thought that the truth about Webb’s whereabouts was finally out.

“I just have to respect the decision of the justice secretary and the NBI for them to remain anonymous,” he said in a conceding tone.

Tears, goose bumps

Although De Lima’s announcement did not come as a surprise, a Vizconde nephew still shed tears and had goose bumps as he read the words “He never left” streaming on his TV screen and watched her news conference with the NBI.

Geejay de Lumen said knowing that the rest of the country had been told that Webb was in the Philippines at the time his aunt Estrellita and cousins Carmela and Jennifer were killed was such a relief.

“The family thought that after the Supreme Court acquitted Hubert, we were facing a dead end. We are so thankful for the reinvestigation ordered by President Aquino. Finally the truth is out there on television. We were right,” De Lumen told the Inquirer.

“Everything that the (NBI) presented is new information. I thought the family would be alone in insisting that Hubert was here when it happened. The report totally shattered his alibi,” said the self-employed 33-year-old.

De Lumen was a 13-year-old freshman when the bloodied corpses of the Vizconde women were discovered on the morning of June 30, 1991.

“I was in school, there was a (parent-teacher association) meeting when my parents were suddenly called and told to proceed to BF Homes,” De Lumen said.

Finally, a closure

His mother Gloria, younger sister of Lauro Vizconde, was in shock upon reaching Vinzons Street.

Cousin Rodel Vizconde was 26 years old at the time. He was among the first to arrive at the crime scene and remembers seeing police officer Gerardo Biong walking away with some of his dead aunt’s personal effects, including some ATM cards.

“Finally, we have our closure,” Rodel sighed, recalling the grisly sight from 20 years back. His late father, Artemio, was Vizconde’s eldest brother.

Rodel, now a 46-year-old pharmacist, regularly monitors the websites that the family set up in response to the online campaign of Webb’s family and friends insisting on his innocence.

After De Lima’s press conference, which was televised, Rodel said the Vizconde-posted websites were deluged with congratulatory messages, mostly addressed to “Daddy Lauro” whom the community said was finally vindicated.

The clincher

“That detail about the magnetic tape examined by the Bureau of Immigration, I think that clinched the deal. Who can argue with that,” Rodel asked.

“That fact that the justice secretary said it took several weeks before they were able to retrieve the data, all that effort to know the truth, there is more reason to believe that their story is the genuine thing,” he added.

Webb and seven others were supposed to serve life sentences for the deaths of the Vizconde women. He, as mastermind, was also found guilty of raping Carmela based on the testimony of Jessica Alfaro.

Webb’s defense lawyers submitted numerous travel documents to prove he was at the States at the time of the murders. The Parañaque Regional Trial Court chose to believe Alfaro’s testimony and sent Webb and his coaccused to prison for rape with homicide.

In time, the Supreme Court said Alfaro’s testimony was shot full of holes and noted that the prosecution failed to prove Webb et al.’s guilt “beyond reasonable doubt.” By a slim margin, it moved to acquit Webb and his cohorts.

Time to move on

“Of course, the NBI’s discoveries can no longer bring back the lives of our loved ones. But that these new information prove that the alibi was a falsehood is enough for us. It shows we are not liars,” Rodel added.

Another cousin, Jose Francisco Cortez, believes the NBI’s latest findings should finally put the issue to rest and inspire those concerned to “move on.”

“I have mixed feelings right now,” said Cortez, a 39-year-old businessman. “The revelations cannot change what happened but at least Tito Lauro is assured of the public’s support. I guess that still makes him a winner.”

Cortez, son of Vizconde’s older sister Leticia, was a college student when the crime occurred. He recalled seeing bloodied feet at the entrance of the master bedroom of the Vizconde residence that fateful morning.

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“I was not even sure if they were Carmela’s or Tita Estie’s. But the sight of them was enough to make me turn back. How could such a thing happen to them? They were not evil people,” Cortez said.

TAGS: BF Homes, Family, Hubert Webb, new witnesses, vindication

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