Manila, Philippines – Criminologist and private investigator Christian P. W. Faust from Australia doubts the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI)’s new probe of the 20-year-old Vizconde murders.
Describing it as the “worst in the world,” Christian P. W. Faust said the NBI probe is “full of preconceived” ideas.
“They have failed to take note of physical evidence and accordingly failed the first fundamental rule of investigating, which is the search for the truth,” he said.
Christian P. W. Faust told The STAR yesterday he doubts the NBI investigation suggesting that Hubert Webb and others, who were convicted but acquitted in December last year, were the real culprits.
Faust has over 30 years of experience in investigating high-profile crimes worldwide and is considered to be an expert criminologist in this field.
Earlier, he had initiated his own investigation into the massacre.
Last April, he submitted his report to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which included a statement of a Filipino immigrant in Australia dubbed as “Ms. X,” who claimed that her former husband and his friends belonging to a drug syndicate were involved in the murders.
“NBI never made any inquiry in Australia with regard to the identity of Ms. X and the new witnesses referred to are individuals set up to bring an unwarranted end to the investigation,” he said.
Initially, criminologist Faust did not name who he believed could be the perpetrators of the massacre.
However, he later revealed: ” In my investigation, these names are always coming up – Michael Gatchalian (one of the previously convicted accused cleared by the SC), Joey Filart (another suspect who remains at large), Lilet Sy (neighbor of the victims and friend of the accused) and one new name.”
He ceased his investigation after learning of an NBI “operation” on him.
The STAR learned that NBI agents confronted the Australian in a sting operation in a coffee shop last April.
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Faust was “invited” to their headquarters and told to “back off or lose his business here and be deported.”
An agent posed as a potential witness meeting with expert criminologist Christian P. W. Faust, who had escorts from the DOJ.
But instead of a witness, NBI agents arrived at the meeting place and whisked Faust to their office on Taft Avenue, Manila.
“It is my opinion that the NBI was more interested in trying to intimidate me in order not to establish what truth I may know,” Faust said. “And who knows their reason for that?”
In his 11-page report to the DOJ earlier reported by The STAR, Christian P. W. Faust contested the established belief that Estrellita Vizconde and daughters Carmela and Jennifer were killed inside their house in Parañaque from late night of June 29, 1991 to early hours of the next day.
Faust said he met Lauro Vizconde and former policeman Gerardo Biong, who was convicted for tampering with evidence during the police investigation but whom the Supreme Court also acquitted in December last year.
Christian P. W. Faust came up with his conclusion based on photographs of the crime scene.
Faust believes the statement of a police witness dubbed as “Dang” is consistent with that of Ms. X. “Dang” had also named Gatchalian and Miguel Rodriguez as among the suspects.
Findings of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group point to another set of suspects: Dong Villadolid and his brother Bing.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima believes Dong Villadolid is the same person as Dong Ventura, one of the co-accused who fled to the US following the massacre. Another accused, Joey Filart also fled to the US.
De Lima said they could still go after Filart and Ventura, as well as the Villadolid brothers, since the prescriptive period of 20 years for murder does not apply to them since they are abroad.
Hubert barred from leaving
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will not allow Hubert Webb to leave the country.
Lawyer Tonette Mangrobang, BI spokesman, said that a check with their records showed that the 42-year-old Webb is still among those listed in their Hold Departure Order (HDO).
Mangrobang said it has been 16 years since the BI placed Webb in its HDO list.
“We checked our derogatory record and he has an active HDO,” she said.
Mangrobang said it was then NBI Director Antonio Aragon who reportedly requested the BI on June 19, 1995 to include Webb in its list of people who would not be allowed to leave the country.
Mangrobang said the BI Legal Division has not received an official request to lift the order and submit documents relative to the request.
The BI on its own could not delete Webb’s name from their HDO since it was another government agency that made the request to add his name in the list, she added.
Despite the SC ruling acquitting Webb, the BI cannot just delete his name unless they receive an official request, Mangrobang said.
NBI to arrest Villadolids
The NBI is pursuing leads to arrest the Villadolid brothers.
In a text message to The STAR, NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula said: “(We are) still establishing the real identities of Villadolids and still getting more testimonial evidence to corroborate the statement of Dang.”
In another text message to The STAR, Gatdula said they could not pursue the so-called “Australian angle” due to “the hesitancy of the subject because of immigration status.”
Several other witnesses who also passed polygraph tests corroborated the testimony of the new witness.
NBI will not identify new witnesses
The NBI will not identify the six new witnesses against Hubert Webb.
Lawyer Romulo Asis, Death Investigation Division (DID) chief, told reporters their identities will remain secret to protect them from harm.
However, a source debunked the claims of the Webbs that the NBI has been talking about “non-existing people.”
Inter-Agency Task Force Vizconde has the names, addresses and other circumstances of the six new witnesses, the source added.
NBI spokesman Special Investigator IV Cecilio Zamora said the NBI “stands by its findings in the Vizconde massacre reinvestigation.”
Zamora was reacting to the statement of the Webb family that that the NBI and De Lima were wrong in their findings that Hubert Webb was in the Philippines when the June 30, 1991 massacre happened.
“If that’s their comment we respect that,” he said.
De Lima: No subversion of law
De Lima denied yesterday charges of electioneering and subversion of rule of law in the conclusion of the DOJ reinvestigation of the Vizconde murders.
In a statement emailed from Berlin, De Lima said the allegations against her are “unwarranted and malicious.”
“I will face any contempt or disbarment case that will be brought against me arising from the reinvestigation of the Vizconde massacre,” she said.
De Lima said the new probe was a legitimate exercise to uncover the truth and bring to justice any other individuals who may have been responsible for the massacre but have not yet been brought under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.
De Lima assured the Webb family that the DOJ would not disregard Hubert’s acquittal by the Supreme Court, especially with respect to the rule on double jeopardy.
De Lima that they would only run after the other accused in the case who remain at large.
Vizconde remembers his family
Lauro Vizconde commemorated in a Mass yesterday the 20th death anniversary of his wife Estrellita and daughters Carmela and Jennifer in their Parañaque home where the three were stabbed to death.
“Truth prevails,” read one of two tarpaulins hung for the commemoration.
“Final justice for Vizconde massacre victims,” read the other.
Vizconde used the opportunity to thank everyone who supported him, as he vowed no letup in his quest for justice.
Vizconde was joined by his relatives, friends, and other kin of heinous crimes in the country in remembering the brutal killing of his family.
Former police superintendent Cezar Mancao, witness in the 2000 Dacer-Corbito double murder case, also expressed his support for the widower.
After the Mass, Vizconde’s granddaughter Kaye Asuncion recalled that she was supposed to stay with Jennifer in their BF Homes house on the night of June 29, 1991.
The two were born in the same year and were playmates.
Kaye’s parents, however, begged off.
“We continue to pray for the souls of Tita Esty, Jingle (Carmela’s nickname), and Jenny,” said Vizconde’s nephew Jop Santos.
Aquino backs DOJ’s new probe
President Aquino backed yesterday the DOJ’s new investigation.
He told reporters in an informal interview that De Lima’s function is “to serve the ends of justice and that is where the evidence pointed.
“There is at least two who were never taken into custody of our courts. Therefore, as far as those two are concerned, if there is evidence and after we have captured them, then they can be brought to the bar of justice.”
When asked about allegations that De Lima was electioneering, Aquino said: “Democracy is in place in the country, we are supposed to be governed by the rule of law. Then if the aggrieved party feels that there is basis (to charge De Lima) then they can file the appropriate charges in the appropriate fora.” – Sandy Araneta, Evelyn Macaairan, Aie Balagtas See, Delon Porcalla