PORAC, Pampanga -- Grocery store owner Jayson Dela Cruz recalled the split second when his wife and 2 young children were killed in a supermarket collapse, as he stared at their white coffins 2 days after a powerful earthquake rattled Luzon.
Dela Cruz's wife Manilyn and their kids, 6-year-old Jacob and 1-year-old Hailee were among 5 fatalities recovered from the rubble and among 16 people killed in Pampanga, where the Magnitude 6.1 earthquake last Monday damaged houses, churches and infrastructure.
A Magnitude 4.5 aftershock before dawn Wednesday temporarily halted search operations at the wreckage, with rescuers reporting no more signs of life.
The 30-year-old widower said his family went ahead inside Chuzon supermarket and he was parking their tricycle when the quake struck.
"Biglang lumindol na, hindi ko pa nai-park ‘yung tricycle namin, bigla na lang bumagsak ‘yung ano, hindi ko na sila nakita. Segundo lang," Dela Cruz told ABS-CBN News.
(The ground shook and I was no longer able to park our tricycle. The building collapsed in a split second. I never saw them.)
"Hindi ko na alam ang gagawin. Gusto ko silang iligtas kaya lang, wala na, hindi na umabot. Sumisigaw ako, inaangat ko ‘yung mga bato para makita sila kaya lang hindi ko sila makita," he said.
(I did not know what to do. I wanted to save them but I did not make it. I was shouting, digging through rocks but I was not able to see them.)
Dela Cruz's mother, Sanita, said she could not bear looking at the remains of her grandchildren and daughter-in-law.
"Parang gusto ko na ring mamatay (It seems that I also want to die)," she said.
Six-year-old Jacob is a kind and smart student while Hailee is a talkative baby, she said.
She said someone should be held liable for the family's loss. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said Wednesday authorities were investigating why the supermarket collapsed when surrounding structures did not.
Supermarket owner Samuel Chu and assistant manager Kaye Toledo underwent questioning at the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. Their permit to run similar businesses was suspended.