Family of father killed by unidentified gunmen waits beside his body for the arrival of police SOCO in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Manila Night Prowl #3: Dead dad, no motive

By Anjo Bagaoisan

A woman cries upon seeing her father shot by unidentified gunmen in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

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 Dela Cruz talks to her crying daughter outside police line where Gloria's husband lay shot by unidentified gunmen in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, August 24 (Shot by Melchor Platero, ABS-CBN News)

(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.

No one knew the answer.

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Remembrance: A year back at the massacre site

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO–The morning heat stung on the faces of the throng trekking the leveled dirt road across this remote hill.

Many came by the truckloads from other towns and were likely dropped off at the dirt road’s entrance, a left turn from the national highway. There police officers filtered the vehicles that came in.

For every truck that passed through, dozens scrambled to hitchhike and save the long, hot, and arduous walk hundreds of others made.

The sight was unlikely in this area before. Few dared come here by themselves, a thing explained by the heavy security presence.

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Yet we still asked as our van rolled up and down and further inward, why would many, especially locals, brave the weather and the hanging danger?

The sheer number of people and the prominence of the event somehow assured us that nothing grave would catch us.

As the shed built over the site drew near, we saw a few thatched huts scattered along rather-tended greenery. Whether anyone lived in them, we weren’t sure.

If there were, could they have witnessed the gruesome end of 58 people diverted here exactly a year before? And if they had, were they silenced forcefully, or worse, permanently?

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

We came here a year ago, when the nation’s memory centered for one day on a southern sitio named Masalay and on the worst political crime of recent history done here.

This year, journalists, locals, and families of the slain again converged on this area to remember. The place has undergone a makeover, and the country has seen game-changing events of its own.

Yet like the circumstances of the first year, those commemorating two years since the Ampatuan massacre have only seen the slow pace of justice.

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