Behold one’s mother
Minutes later, a gunshot echoed through the neighborhood. Teresita was horrified. Was it her son? In between, she heard someone calling: “Nay! Aray ko nay! Aray ko!”
Her son has died, she was told later.
Her son died of multiple gunshot wounds. “Yung isa po dito, tagos po dito sa p’wet,” Teresita said, theorizing that the police fired upon her son while he was down on his knees. “Yung dibdib ng anak ko, hati ito. Ang laki ng sugat.”
By then, police came in and out of Dominguez’s door, and there emerged the dead man’s one-year-old daughter, wailing.
Teresita heard some more gunshots. She also heard something she couldn’t believe.
Son fought back
“Lumalaban ka pa ah! Tang ina mo ka buti hindi pumutok,” she heard another policeman talking.
Did my son fight back? How could he? He had no gun, she said.
Teresita and her daughter, Marites, had gone hysterical, drawing the ire of the police. Marites was brought inside the police car to silence her.
“Galit na galit ‘yung isang pulis kasi salita ng salita ‘yung anak ko,” Teresita said. “Sabi niya: ‘O, bakit kayo nagpapaputok dito? Maraming bata rito.’ Sabi naman nung isang pulis, ‘Putangina mo! ang ingay ingay mo! Posasan niyo nga yan.”
Dominguez was one of the 50 slain drug criminals whose cases an ABS-CBN Investigative and Research team revisited between August 1 and September 9.
The team interviewed police and barangay officials, and families, friends, neighbors of the 50 drug suspects killed in police operations in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite between May 10 and July 27.
Certified users, peddlers
Based on these interviews and police records, 46 of the 50 dead had been involved in illegal drugs, either as user or peddler, or both.
Thirty-one of them, including Dominguez, were included in the anti-drug watch list of the barangay and the police.
One victim’s involvement could not be determined because of conflicting statements of the family and the police.
Dying in sleep
But relatives of 43 of the 50 suspects said the dead did not fight back. Of the 43 slain victims, about 16, Dominguez among them, were heard begging for their lives before they were shot to death.
Many of these victims were even sleeping before they were killed, contrary to the police version that they were the subject of buy-bust operations.
Relatives of five other slain suspects made similar claims but could not provide supporting details.
Only 2 fought back
Only two of the 50 appeared to have clearly fought back—Brian Oliveros, 40, of Taguig City and George Oliveros, 36, of General Malvar, Cavite—if only because of the police casualties recorded, official police reports and witnesses showed. (The two Oliveroses were not related).
The ABS-CBN team also located relatives of 13 other victims but they refused to grant a formal interview out of fear. Some have abandoned their homes for good for the same reason.
Families of at least three dead said their relatives were merely collateral damages in the war on drugs.
Male and poor
These were Julius Dizon, 25, of Muntinlupa City; Joel Galang, 30, of Calamba City, Laguna; and Jerome Garcia, 23, of Sta. Rosa City, Laguna. They were caught in the company of the police target at the time they were killed, their families and official records said.
Almost all of the victims were poor, lived in the slums and outskirts of the provinces. They were unemployed or last employed either as construction workers, drivers, or porters. Many were breadwinners, while some were providing a bit of support to their families. They were all male.
They had police record
Thirty of them had previous brushes with the law and been jailed, but were later released, according to their families: 17 of them were charged with drug related cases, eight with non-drug related cases, and five of them were charged with both drug and non-drug related crimes.
Thousands have been killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs since he decisively won in the May 9 elections. US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and local and international human rights groups have criticized the President, saying the war has violated the human rights of the drug suspects.
In the monitoring of the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, a total of 1,756 have been killed from May 10 to September 26.
Of this number, 1,031 of these were killed in police operations, 592 were killed by unidentified assailants, and 133 bodies were found away from the crime scene.
But official figures were much higher, which means that there were many unreported and explained deaths on top of those reported in media.
2,500 die; 700,000 yield
As of September 18, the Philippine National Police has conducted 18,467 operations in the war on drugs nationwide.
About 714,803 have surrendered, clogging detention and rehabilitation centers, a phenomenon that even surprised the Duterte administration on the extent of the nationwide drug menace.
The PNP operations also resulted in the death of 1,140 drug suspects.
But outside the police operations, there were 1,571 other reported deaths as of September 14 that even the police could hardly explain; the deaths allegedly perpetrated either by so-called vigilantes or other members of drug syndicates eliminating people who might testify against them.
No warrant, no mercy
The ABS-CBN team’s investigation showed a seeming hallmark in the way the police conducted their operations, some of these bordered on the brutal and inhumane, if the families and witnesses were to be believed.
As pieced together by the ABS-CBN team, police operatives would arrive in target site, numbering anywhere between 10 and 30 men, some in plainclothes and masks, and barge inside a home without warning before shooting the victim. They showed no warrant, not even an iota of respect to the homeowner.
They were usually members of the police’s Station Anti-Illegal Drugs unit, Special Operations Task Group, and the Station Intelligence Branch.
Even when the victim was with other people at the time of the operation, the authorities would forcibly pull all the people out of the house.
The police would not just contain the victim’s family, but also the whole community.
A policeman would guard each house to prevent the rest of the neighborhood from leaving their own homes.
But because the neighborhoods where the operations happened were mostly tightly-knit slums, residents would hear what was happening.
In many cases, they heard the police fired warning shots and shout at the victim as if he was resisting, before they would fire another round.
No signs of struggle
Witnesses said they did not hear any commotion or struggle and in several cases, the victims—like Roberto Dominguez—were heard surrendering or pleading for their lives right before they were killed.
“Sabi niya: ‘nay! Aray ko nay! Aray ko!’” Teresita said, wiping her tears. “Humingi pa ng saklolo yung anak ko bago namatay.”
In some cases, the police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives would arrive as fast as 15 minutes to as late as three hours—like in the case of Dominguez—to examine the crime scene and gather the pieces of evidence, ranging from packets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as shabu, to a .38-caliber revolver loaded with bullets, and fired cartridges.