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The Vizconde Massacre, the Hultman case, the Marikina killings and the Ampatuan Mass Murder. These were just a few of the gruesome crime stories that hogged media headlines for months–even years–in recent memory. But there were cases just as shockingly chilling, perhaps even more so, as these sensational crimes from the 1960s decade.
10. The Menace of the Face-Slashers (1965).
In August 1965, a mystifying rash of crimes befell young students of Manila—a series of face-slashing incidents either with a knife or razor blade was perpetrated on grade schoolers and colegialas.
Tondo had the most cases, and in all instances, the modus was the same—the slasher appears from nowhere, attacks the victim and then disappears. Capt. Felicisimo Lazaro of the Tondo precinct smiled off the case as another “teen fad” inspired, he said, by a local movie about a disguise artist, “Pitong Mukha ni Dr. Ivan.” But with over 600 cases reported, the incidents could not be dismissed as a mere gimmick.
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Rumors spread like wildfire about the culprits; some believed they were drug addicts, others claimed they were extortionists linked to the Karate and Bahala Na gangs—those who failed to comply were branded by a blade.
The strangest angle was that the face-slashing was a Communist plot, after two posters with the Nazi swastika were found at the San Francisco del Monte Elementary School. The posters threw students in panic, caused anxiety among parents and forced police chiefs to field 180 policemen to patrol schools.
Only 2 slashers in Parañaque were apprehended by the NBI, but since nothing was said beyond the admission of guilt, their motive remained a mystery to this day. By year’s end, the scar scare ceased.
9. The Abduction of Annabelle Huggins (1963).
A classic tale of “he said-she said,” the case of Fil-Am actress Annabelle Huggins remains one of the top newsmakers in 1963, noted for its chaotic courtroom drama and over-the-top media reportage.
On October 23, 1962, 19-year-old Huggins reported that she was taken against her will to Hagonoy, Bulacan and defiled of her honor by Ruben Ablaza, a portly taxi driver, who plotted the abduction with two others, Lauro Ocampo and Jose “Totoy Pulis” Leoncio. The incident was repeated on March 22, 1963, and this time, Huggins was reportedly kidnapped from Makati and taken first to Caloocan and then to Bulacan, a more serious offense.
When Ablaza was apprehended and tried in court, he contended that the two were in love, that she freely went with him and what he did “was the vogue of the time.” The most awaited part of the trial was when the principal witness, Huggins, testified before Fiscal Pascual Kliatchko and a curious courtroom crowd.
Huggins cried hysterically for 6 hours as she recounted details of her alleged rape, testing her endurance and will power. To add further drama, her American father, Roy Huggins—whom she had not seen for 17 years—suddenly showed up for a brief but tearful reunion.
Ablaza was found guilty of kidnapping with rape and was meted a life sentence. To the end, he professed his love for Huggins and his desire to marry her. Ablaza died shortly after being released from prison.
Huggins, on the other hand, went on to pursue her movie career, starring in a 1963 movie based on her harrowing experience, “God Knows”(Batid ng Diyos) and appearing in a U.S.-made war movie with Jack Nicholson in 1964.
8. The 83-day Ordeal of Cosette Tanjuaquio (1964).
For about 3 suspenseful months, the whole nation was riveted to the news of the kidnapping of 15-year-old Cosette Tanjuaquio. The Maryknoll coed was staying in his uncle’s Loyola Heights home when, on November 16, 1964, she was snatched by 4 men and just disappeared.
A Php50,000 reward was put up by her distraught parents, Mr. & Mrs. Calixto Tanjuaquio. Back in Cosette’s school, 500 Maryknoll students prayed religiously every day for her safe return.
The head of the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) himself, Col. Benjamin Tolentino, handled the Cosette case, which had a break only in January 25 when a counterfeit ring was uncovered. A member of the syndicate accidentally blurted out details of a “kidnapped girl.” This led to the dramatic rescue of Cosette who was found in a World War II air raid shelter next to a pig pen, on February 7, 1965.
The dank, dirty pit, only 4 feet high, was accessible only through a narrow 2 ft. x 2 ft. crevice. It was, ironically, just 4 kilometers away from the Tanjuaquio’s Guagua home.
In 1966, the kidnappers were tried, proven guilty and sentenced by Judge Placido Ramos. Orador Pingol and Nomer Jingco, the masterminds, were sentenced to death while followers Armando Morales and Angel David were given life sentences.
The judge recommended that the president commute the death penalty to reclusion perpetua for the reason that Pingol and Jingco never took advantage of the victim’s weakness in all the time Cosette was held captive, hence they still had the “spark of divinity” that boded well for their rehabilitation.
7. The Janet Clemente Conspiracy (1969).
A multiple murder case allegedly under the direction of a woman was the top crime news in 1969. Club hostess Janet Hernandez Clemente conspired with Alfredo Edwards and Mario Canial in the cold-blooded murder of Benjamin Galang, Irineo Narvasca and Zosimo Felarca in Sampaloc.
All three victims were friends of Florencio San Miguel, a common-law husband of Clarita Hernandez, Janet’s sister. For having junked Clarita, San Miguel claimed that Clemente had threatened to kill him, his relatives and friends. The situation was exacerbated when San Miguel had a violent altercation with a Clemente relative, Ramon Hernandez.
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Things came to a head when Clemente made good her threats. In the evening of April 29, she and her cohorts, stopped their white Toyota on Elias St. and started mowing San Miguel’s friends one by one with their .45 caliber pistol and carbine, with Clemente providing identifications.
The three suspects were caught, tried and sentenced by Judge Manuel Pamaran of the Manila Criminal Circuit Court, imposing the capital punishment of death . In August 1972, their case was reviewed and the Supreme Court reversed the decision, ruling out that the killing was not pre-meditated but a chance encounter, hence, no conspiracy.
Both Mario Canial and Alfredo Edwards were found guilty of homicide, but only Canial served time in prison, Edwards having died while waiting for the appeal. Janet Clemente was acquitted and walked away free.
6. The RCA Axe Slaughter (1963).
On the early dawn of August 26, 1963, Manila woke up to the horrible news wrought by a “bestial, axe-wielding gang” that left dead five security guards of the RCA Bldg, on Canonigo St., Paco, Manila.
Butchered with a 15-pound fireman’s axe were Ricardo de la Cruz , Roberto Gonzalez , Francisco Timbol, Francisco Zablan and Alfredo Adaza, who died en route to the hospital. Two others narrowly cheated death—Turiano de Guzman hid in a guard’s room when he heard the dying moans of his companions, and carpenter Pablo Lopez walked into the gang’s lookout and was forced to join the hogtied guards. When the axe wielder started his grisly work, Lopez buried his head under the bodies of the dead and feigned death.
The gang blew off 2 RCA safes and took off with over Php335,000 —a huge amount at that time. From the statements of the survivors, the investigators pieced the story of the heinous massacre, which turned out to be an inside job involving RCA employees: Leonardo Bernardo (driver), Mariano San Diego (guard), Mariano Domingo (guard supervisor) and Apolonio Adriano (guard, tagged as the axe-man).
The group had come in a jeep and overpowered the guards by grabbing their high-powered Thompsons. The accused were tried, convicted and sentenced to death on March 19, 1966 by CFI Judge Placido Ramos. They were also ordered to pay Php218,000 indemnity to RCA, representing the unrecovered money that they stole.
Continue Reading: 10 Notorious Crimes of the 1960s That Shocked The Philippines (Part II)