P/Supt. Robert Domingo is no stranger to media workers packing the premises of Manila’s police station 1 in Raxabago Street, Tondo. He’s previously held press conferences at his office–especially to those of the night beat–baring his team’s latest bust or capture.
The group of reporters and shooters that swarmed his station at dusk of April 27 would have been no different.
This time, though, things were not going the station chief’s way.
“Huwag na tayo magpalusot, pare. Halata naman. Tahimik na lang sana tayo, nagka-ganito pa.”
Atty. Gilbert Boiser, the white-haired, bespectacled director of the Commission on Human Rights’ investigations office was chiding Domingo. While both were nearly the same height, Boiser chose to sit. They were holed up near the door at a corner of the drug enforcement unit’s office at the back of the station. There was hardly room to move.
Their point of contention was at the opposite corner of that office, between them and a mass of people way more than the office can comfortably hold, and hidden behind a wooden bookshelf.
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.
(Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)
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.
A text message arrived past 1 a.m., August 12. We followed it to Don Carlos Village, a strikingly familiar area in Pasay City. Wasn’t someone killed there the week before? (Yes, there was.)
All we knew then was that two were dead. The rest we had to find out onsite or through the policemen there.
When media workers arrive on such a scene, the body is usually untouched and the story often complete–courtesy of the leader of the police operation.
If you’ve followed these stories for days on end since July, the narrative can become familiar. Drug buy-bust gone wrong. Or killed by unidentified gunmen. Or dead body left wrapped up with a note.
Then there are days when reporters still have to piece together what happened in bits and pieces as the details arrive. And unlike the usual stories, the plot suddenly twists and thickens in an hour or two.