A 5-year-old girl who wanted to become a teacher someday is the latest victim of the government's unrelenting war against drugs.
On Tuesday, Danica May Garcia was hit in the head by a stray bullet as men aboard a motorcycle fired at her 52-year old grandfather while the family was having lunch in their home in Brgy. Mayombo, Dagupan City.
Danica was taking a bath in a makeshift bathroom, covered by a recycled campaign tarpaulin. She was getting ready for school.
Danica’s aunt, who wished not to be identified, narrated how the back rider tried to shoot his father.
“May nag-stop po na nakamotor. Bumaril po yung may dala ng baril. Tumakbo po siya. Tapos sinundan pa rin po siya hanggang sa likod. Eh ang masaklap po tinamaan yung pamangkin ko na walang kinalaman [A man on board a motorcycle went after my grandfather but, sadly, he hit my niece],” she recalled.
The grandfather survived, but Danica was declared dead upon arriving at the hospital.
Danica's grandmother, Gemma Garcia lamented how the drug war
took the child's life.
Amid the grief, Gemma also pleaded Danica to help them seek justice.
“Huwag mo silang papatulugin, anak, hangga’t walang sumusuko sa kanila [Tap their conscience until they surrender],” the inconsolable Gemma said.
Dagupan City Police’s initial investigation revealed that the grandfather’s alleged involvement in the drug trade might be the motive behind the shooting.
He surrendered to authorities a week ago after learning from barangay officials that his name was included in the drugs watch list of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC).
Superintendent Neil Miro, Dagupan City Chief of Police, said the police is closing in on the possible involvement of a drug syndicate.
“Ang grupo ng mga sindikatong ito. Sila-sila na mismo ang nag-aaway. Bumubuo na nga tayo ng grupo para maidentify kung sino ba talaga yung grupong bumibira [Syndicates may be behind this. We are trying to identify the culprits],” Miro added.
However, the Garcia family firmly denied the grandfather’s alleged drug activities. His wife said they only convinced him to surrender in order to clear his name.
Gemma questioned his husband’s inclusion in the BADAC Drugs Watch List. She said her husband, who was partially paralyzed due to mild stroke, stayed at home most of the time.
The local church meanwhile strongly condemned the spate of killings.
Father Allan Morris Abuan, Head of Family and Life Ministry in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan said the church is not against drug war but on how innocent lives are being put at stake.
“Anti-drug din naman talaga tayo. It’s a social menace na kinakailangang alisin pero yung pamamaraan sana … na siguraduhin din natin yung karapatan ng tao. At saka ito na yun … yung mga inosente talaga ay nadadamay,” Father Abuan added.
In a data released by the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office, the death toll on war on drugs has reached 106 from July 1 to August 23, 2016.
War on drugs: Death toll rising
Danica is currently enrolled as a kinder pupil at East Central Integrated School.
Jaky Sanggalang, her seatmate, remembered how Danica would often play hide-and-seek with her while waiting for class to start.
“Mamimiss ko po siya,” Sanggalang said.
Danica’s teacher, Renna Dimaapi, described Danica as a very inquisitive child who wanted to become a teacher someday.
“Si Danica isang batang laging nagtatanong kasi gustong matuto,” Dimaapi recalled.
Yesterday, Dimaapi visited Danica’s wake and presented Danica’s artworks to her parents.
Danica is an only daughter. She was cared for by her 29-year-old single mother but it was her Lola Gemma who provided for her financial needs.
Gemma barely makes enough money from selling viands in front of their home, which was built from the P15,000 aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government unit.
“Nagka-baon-baon pa ako sa utang para lang mabuhay ko silang lahat … pambili ko sa asawa ko ng gamot, maintenance niya, pagkain ng mga anak ko tsaka mga apo ko,” Gemma added.
And now, she owes P16,000 from the funeral home just to put up a decent wake for her granddaughter.
The family has no idea where to seek help. They feel even more helpless not even knowing who to blame.