MANILA - The candles have burned out and the flowers have wilted but Danilo Mendoza Jr.'s remains still lie at his parents' house in Tondo, five days after he was shot point-blank in front of his own family.
Lilia Larin, Mendoza's sister, said the family wanted to bury Mendoza last Wednesday. However, his two daughters, ages 6 and 4, asked for more time with their dad.
Before his death, Mendoza worked as a pedicab driver in Tondo.
On the day of his death, Mendoza's daughters fetched their dad at the corner of the street so they could have dinner.
Minutes later, two men riding on a single motorcycle shot the pedicab driver in the head, killing him.
CCTV footage showed bystanders putting Mendoza's body inside a tricycle while his daughter watched, mouth open in anguish.
SAPUL SA CCTV: Pedicab driver, binaril sa harap ng mag-ina
WAS IT DRUGS?
In a TV Patrol interview, Mendoza's common-law wife, Cristy, said the pedicab driver had gotten into an altercation with a police officer before his death.
On Monday, the Mendoza family learned that a suspect in the pedicab driver's murder had been killed in a police operation.
Valentin Duran was shot in a shanty below a bridge in another area of Tondo Sunday night after he allegedly turned on operatives transacting with him during a buy-bust operation.
Police said Duran was the driver of the motorcycle ridden by the man who shot Mendoza.
Manila police also said Mendoza and Duran were both on local drugs watch lists and that the shooting incident may have been caused by a dispute over drug money.
Lilia Larin, Mendoza's younger sister, however, disputed claims that her brother was killed over drugs. She said her brother had long given up the vice.
"Oo yung kapatid ko gumamit. Pero kung mamatay sya hindi sa drugs. Hindi totoo yun. Matagal na siyang tumigil kasi lagi ko siyang pinapagalitan," she said.
She also takes issue with how police seemingly connect instances of killings these days to narcotics.
She also regrets that the suspect Duran was killed in the operation. Police said last night they intended to apprehend Duran to question him on Mendoza's shooter.
"Sana hindi nila pinatay para nakausap namin yung tao. Pero kung siya man yun, nagpapasalamat pa rin kami," Larin said.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?
Mendoza's two daughters, aged 6 and 4, are coping with their father's death in different ways.
The family said the younger daughter will not approach the coffin to look at her dad.
The elder daughter smiles at visitors to the wake. She also plays with her puppy and watches children's videos online.
She said she had a dream that her father visited her. In the dream, he told her to stop fighting her sister.
She said her father kissed her on the forehead. And then she woke up.
Cristy, Mendoza's common-law wife, said she has yet to accept the loss of her partner. "Sana yung iba mahuli rin. Gusto ko yung paano pinatay siya, ganun din siya patayin," she said.
Larin said it is her nieces that are on her mind now that her brother is dead.
"Para kayong pumatay ng kapirasong langgam lang. Isipin nyo yung mga naiwan, wala namang naghahanapbuhay rito. Sino bubuhay sa mga anak niya?" With Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBN News