In Bilibid, BF: A wait ends, a wait goes on

Part 2 of “Awaiting freedom, awaiting justice.” Read it here.

Jail bars at the National Bilibid Prison (Shot by Thomas Carpio, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Thomas Carpio, ABS-CBN News)

Two layers of jail bars separate the detainees of Bilibid from the outside world. This basement entrance marks the boundary between the facade of the Bureau of Corrections and the sprawling prison compound.

There, Sir Jorge and four of our cameramen waited for any stir. From the lull, he reported live for ANC. We had our cameraman pan around for live shots. My MacBook recorded the feed, for later use and should anything happen.

A few minutes into the report, the camera caught an orange-shirted Hubert Webb enter the holding area.

Sir Shadow directed, while I was on the phone to our ANC coordinator Mnemo. “Tell Sir Jorge to keep talking!” she shouted. The people at the ANC control room were squealing at Webb’s first ever shots in years.

First image of Hubert Webb after acquittal (Shot by Thomas Carpio, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Thomas Carpio, ABS-CBN News)

As before, so today. ANC had first dibs on the first verdict, and it had come full circle in this decisive one.

As the other convicts exited the same gate, we were asking each other who each person was. First time I heard of the other characters in this high-profile case.

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Awaiting freedom, awaiting justice

"Patrol ng Pilipino sa Munti, Padre Faura, Paranaque, at saan man sa mundo" - tweet by @anjo_bagaoisan

Our teams stood sentry at those areas long before daybreak, waiting for a verdict that would spell another turn in a two-decade saga of blood, status, and young and lost lives.

Just outside the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, our crew of 25 manned 2 setups ready to go live should the Supreme Court decide to set free 5 men locked up for 15 years.

Unsure what would happen, our anticipation grew. It was a climax to a year bombed with blasts from the past.

To Filipinos, two words have become associated with ‘massacre’: Maguindanao and Vizconde. Both precipitated an uproar in their times, turned up controversial suspects, yet remain unclosed cases.

The grisly murders of the 3 Vizconde women set off the real-life “Mara Clara” of the 1990s.

I grew up with no TV glued to either teleserye or case. But that forgotten diary, the Webbs, and the long-winded stories are as household names to me as to the next Pinoy.

Already buried, the Vizconde case recently brewed when those jailed for the killings, led by Hubert Webb, appealed for another review of the case. But when crucial evidence was nowhere to be found, the high court said it would push through with a verdict.

Getting our field assignments to cover the SC ruling, I was still curious, “What’s so big about this story anyway?”

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