Hubert Webb and his five co-accused are now free men.
After languishing in jail for fifteen years Webb, Tonyboy Lejano, Pyke Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Michael Gatchalian and Peter Estrada were acquitted by the Philippine Supreme Court despite having been declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the Paranaque Municipal Trial Court and even by the Court of Appeals.
The key to their acquittal is the disappearance of the semen specimen said to have been obtained from the body of murder and rape victim Carmela Vizconde. The said specimen was supposed to have been turned over by the National Bureau of Investigation to the Paranaque trial court but while the case was on-going. Back then, DNA testing was practially unheard of in the Philippines and it was only a few months back that the Supreme Court granted the request of Webb’s camp for the specimen to be submitted to DNA tests.
The semen specimen is said to be an exculpatory evidence that will supposedly prove once and for all Webb’s presence in the crime scene. Without it there is no solid evidence that Webb was even in the country at the time the killing took place. It will be remembered that Webb is claiming that he was in the United States months before and after the gruesome murder (and rape of Carmela) of the Vizconde family.
Unfortunately, the said specimen can no longer be found despite certification from the NBI that it was indeed transferred to the lower court’s safe-keeping.
Up until his release a few hours ago, Webb is claiming innocence of the crime and said he has learned to forgive the injustice that has kept him behind bars for almost two decades. When asked for a message for Mr. Lauro Vizconde (the husband and father, respectively, of Estrellita and father of Carmela and Jennifer), Webb said he wishes Vizconde would join him in the search for the real perpetrators of the murder of the Vizconde family.
Vizconde, on the other hand, is adamant in his belief that Webb’s group is guilty beyond reasonable doubt and said he can now only rely on divine providence for the justice that he has long been fighting for for his wife and daughters. He believes that the missing semen specimen does not negate the fact that his family was brutally murdered fifteen years ago.