MANILA, Philippines - The wife of broadcast journalist Ted Failon was in critical condition yesterday from a gunshot wound to the head inflicted at their home in Quezon City.
Doctors at the New Era Hospital declared Trinidad Etong, 45, brain dead from a bullet wound in her left temple.
Police said the incident happened at around 10:30 a.m. at the couple’s home.
Investigators initially questioned Failon, a news anchor of ABS-CBN TV Patrol, at his house at 27 General Aquino street, Tierra Pura subdivision in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
Failon, Mario Teodoro Failon Etong in real life, claimed his wife committed suicide, but police doubted this, noting inconsistences in the stories given by members of the household.
The bathroom where the victim was found as well as the vehicle used to rush her to the hospital were cleaned of bloodstains and other items that may serve as evidence.
The gun was handed over to the police by Failon himself, rendering any fingerprint on the weapon useless in identifying who fired the shot.
Bong Osorio, ABS-CBN corporate communications head, sent to The STAR Failon’s official statement that read: “Hindi ko na tinapos ang aking programa sa dzMM kaninang umaga matapos kong makausap ang aking asawa sa telepono. Kaya umuwi ako kaagad at natagpuan kong nakakandado ang pinto ng banyo. Pinabuksan ko ang pinto at natagpuan ko ang aking asawa na duguan kung kaya’t itinakbo ko siya kaagad sa ospital (I did not finish my radio program at dzMM this morning after I talked to my wife over the telephone. I immediately went home and I found out the bathroom door locked. I asked for the door to be opened and found my bloodied wife and I rushed her to the hospital).”
Osorio also issued the statement of ABS-CBN over dzMM, urging the public to respect the privacy of Failon.
“We appeal to everyone to please respect the privacy of Ted Failon and his family. His wife is fighting for her life,” Osorio said.
Superintendent Franklin Moises Mabanag, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit of the Quezon City Police District, said the doctors told them that the point of entry of the bullet was in the left temple of Trinidad. The bullet exited in the right temple.
Mabanag, however, said members of the household claimed the caliber .380 Walter PPK pistol used was found in the right side of the victim when she was discovered slumped inside the bathroom of the couple’s child on the second floor of the house in Tierra Pura.
He said Failon had committed a violation when he touched the gun that was used in the shooting.
When asked how investigators found the gun when they arrived at the crime scene, Mabanag told The STAR: “He (Failon) handed it (gun) over to us.”
Mabanag also noted that Failon had scratches on his face and a bruised nose.
Members of the media who were waiting outside the Failon residence and at the hospital earlier never got a chance to see Failon.
Mabanag said the housemaids had cleaned the bathroom where the victim was found and the blue Mitsubishi Pajero with license plate XPE-293 that was used to bring the victim to the nearby New Era General Hospital was also cleaned.
He said the investigators subjected all the members of the household last night to paraffin tests at the Failon residence.
Investigator Senior Police Officer 2 Gerry Abad said among those subjected to paraffin test were Failon, driver Glen Pulan, and housemaids Pacifico Apacible, Frida Bullesan and one identified only as Carlota.
Mabanag said it was Failon, Pulan and Trinidad’s sister Pamela who brought the victim to the hospital.
He said the Failon couple had a quarrel last Tuesday night, after which Trinidad reportedly left the house and came back only yesterday morning.
Mabanag showed a letter to members of media that was reportedly written by the victim after the couple’s fight. The reason for the fight was still not clear.
It stated: “Papa, I’m so sorry. Gustong gusto ko pong magsabi sa iyo ng totoo. Pero hindi ko po alam kung papaano ko uumpisahan. Sobrang takot na takot po ako. Aaalis po muna ako. Kasi hindi ko po kaya at nahihiya po ako sa iyo. Sana po mapatawad mo ako (I want to tell you the truth. But I don’t know how to start. I’m very afraid. I will leave now. I can’t take it and I’m ashamed. Hope you can forgive me).”
Mabanag said they could still not consider it a suicide note just yet and added: “We cannot declare yet that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
The couple had reportedly reconciled after the wife came back yesterday morning.
Failon reportedly left early yesterday morning for his morning radio program over dzMM and when he came back home, he searched for his wife. He found his wife slumped inside their child’s bathroom.
A gardener and a housemaid at a nearby house told reporters they did not hear a gunshot from Failon’s residence. They also noted that Failon’s shirt and that of the driver had bloodstains when they came out of the house to bring the wife to the hospital.
Meanwhile, former President Joseph Estrada is saddened by the tragedy involving Failon’s wife.
Estrada said he was shocked to learn that Failon’s wife was shot inside their house in Quezon City.
Failon was among the personalities being considered by Estrada to be included in the opposition’s senatorial ticket in the 2010 elections.“I am very sad to hear the news. But I cannot elaborate on that because I do not know the bottom line of the incident,” Estrada said