By Anjo Bagaoisan
Arnaldo Dela Cruz’s eldest daughter cursed and shrieked when she looked at the dead man lying on the road to her house and recognized him as her father.
She was on her way home at 4 a.m. and passed through the line of twine used to mark out the crime scene. With bystanders and media men watching, she wondered aloud who the body beside a fallen motorcycle was.
When she saw the face, she exclaimed: “P*******, si Tatay!”
Shaking and crying, she walked back, this time around the twine on her way to the other side. The rest of her family was already there. They already knew.
She appealed to the police officers: “Ba’t ayaw niyo itakbo sa ospital, kuya? (Why don’t you bring him to the hospital?)”
No one replied.
Gloria, her mother, met her with an opened umbrella. It had begun to drizzle. Even she could not calm her.
The daughter told Gloria: “Ma-re-revive pa yan! Kaysa hayaan niyong nakahiga diyan! (He could be revived instead of letting him lie there)”
“Sino’ng bumaril diyan (Who killed him)?” she said after squatting on a garage ramp.
No one knew the answer.
Arnaldo Dela Cruz was shot 10 times past 2:30 that morning of August 24, investigators said.
Lito Prillo, who lived on the house facing the incident in Brgy. Batasan Hills, Quezon City, could only say he heard multiple shots at that time. He saw the body when he first peeked out. Then, he heard more shots. The next he peeked, he saw a motorcycle riding away.
Gloria Dela Cruz could not stand seeing her husband like that. No large crowd of residents had gathered around his upturned corpse, but the eyes and camera lenses of the media were trained on it.
She approached the officers, a white blanket in hand.
“Hindi ba natin puwede takpan? (Couldn’t we cover him?),” she asked.
No can do, the policemen told her, until the scene of the crime operatives or SOCO arrived. Three suspected drug pushers had just been killed in a buy-bust operation in another area of Quezon City that hour. The SOCO still had its hands full.
But Gloria later snuck a chance. She walked past the shells of bullets temporarily marked by stones and gently draped the cloth over her husband.
She was already interviewed by a TV reporter who arrived first on the scene, but she soon agreed to one last facing the cameras of the rest of the networks who came later.
Arnaldo was mainly a stay-home dad since he left his job as a waiter years ago, Gloria said.
He did odd jobs fixing electronic appliances at home while she worked as a supervisor.
“He usually left at this hour to buy food when he got hungry,” she told the media in Tagalog, shielding her eyes from the glare of their camera lights.
No resident stepped up to say they saw the shootings. Unlike in other cities, no CCTV camera was around to record what happened. Residents said crimes like this hardly happened in their area.
Without a motive to consider, investigators could not group Arnaldo’s killing with the drug-related casualties around Metro Manila that same night.
It could not also be mentioned in the media’s nightly round-up of drug-related killings.
How would Gloria and their three grown children fare, we asked?
“Malaking kulang, kasi yan ang pinagkakatiwalaan ko sa bahay (It’s a big loss, since he’s the one I’ve entrusted the house to).” She teared up, unable to say more.
Gloria said her husband was a kind man who got angry sometimes. She knew he gambled, but he was always at home when she came from work.
For her, there was no reason anyone would want to kill Arnaldo.
All Gloria knew was that the following Monday, August 29, her husband would no longer be with her to celebrate his 58th birthday.
(“Manila Night Prowl” is PinoyJournalist’s series of logs from the graveyard beat, where Anjo is currently assigned to as a reporter.)