MANILA- When masked men burst into a house in Bagong Silang, North Caloocan and gunned down its occupants on Monday night, they did not just put an end to four lives -- they also left a two-year-old boy orphaned, a single mother bereft of her teenage son, and a whole community quaking in fear of more bloodbath.
It was a few minutes before midnight when residents heard 10 consecutive gunshots from the home of Jefferson Viri, 35 and his common law wife Wang Robles, 24 in Phase 8B, Package 1B in Barangay 176.
"Nakakatakot kasi sobrang lakas ng putok, parang umuulan ng bala. Feeling ko pati kami binabaril," alias Joan, their neighbor, told radio DZMM.
(It was frightening because the gunshots were so loud, it seemed like it was raining bullets. I felt as if we, too, were being shot.)
After four masked men fled from the scene on board two motorcycles, residents discovered Jefferson and Wang's bloodied bodies in their bathroom.
At another part of the house, they found a third fatality identified only as "Jay-R."
Sprawled near him and bleeding badly was 19-year-old Michael Lui John "JL" Bonrostro, a distant relative of Jefferson and Wang. He died upon arriving at the hospital.
JL dropped out of school months ago to help support his three siblings, his mother Luzviminda said. The teenager worked as a water delivery boy but lost his job in November when his boss downsized his staff.
Luzviminda, who works as a manicurist, admitted they barely make ends meet. On nights when money is short, JL would eat dinner at Jefferson and Wang's house.
On the ill-fated night of the attack, JL ate his last meal of instant noodles and rice there, his mother learned from neighbors.
"Kumakain po siya ng pancit canton. Nakita ng mga tao, nagkalat po doon iyung mga pancit canton at kanin," Luzviminda said in a flat voice. "Nasa Bulacan po ako, namamasko kami ng mga anak kong maliit."
Luzviminda said she had warned her son to stop visiting Jefferson and Wanda amid rumors that they were involved in drugs.
She said she feared her son would get in trouble after hearing that seven people, including 5 teenagers, were killed by masked men at a suspected drug den in their barangay last week.
JL, she added, had never dabbled with narcotics.
"Hindi po talaga siya involved sa droga. Wala po siyang trabaho pero hindi po siya nagtitinda ng shabu, ni gumamit po, hindi po talaga," Luzviminda said, her voice finally cracking.
Jefferson and Wang, meanwhile, orphaned their two-year-old son. The boy is now in the care of relatives.
The police community precinct confirmed that the couple were on their drug watch list.
Investigators, however, are still verifying if their deaths were drug-related.
More than 6,100 people have been killed in the past six months during Duterte's controversial war on drugs, about a third in police operations and others classified as deaths under investigation (DUIs). Many DUIs were committed by motorcycle-riding assailants in slum areas.
Metro Manila alone tallied over 1,000 DUIs, only 200 of which have been solved, according to Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the region's police.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to create a special task force of policemen and prosecutors to investigate the deaths of innocent individuals dubbed "collateral damage" in the government's anti-narcotics campaign.
-- With reports from Jeff Hernaez, DZMM; Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News