'Pity their mother, God help all of us!' says multi-awarded writer Butch Dalisay of UP
MANILA - The relatives of a woman who was shot dead inside a jeepney last July now fear for their own lives after her brother was also killed by an unknown gunman in Makati City early Wednesday morning.
Three months after Lauren Rosales was killed, her brother Petronio Rosales Jr. was gunned down in Barangay San Antonio Village while waiting for a ride home.
A witness said the gunman suddenly approached Petronio and shot him before fleeing on a motorcycle.
Petronio and his friends had just left a restaurant when he was shot.
A single gunshot wound in the head ended Petronio's life. A spent bullet casing was found in the crime scene.
His friends said Petronio was set to leave for abroad and was in the Philippines following up with police the case of his sister Lauren, who was killed by a fellow jeepney passenger in Makati City in July.
Makati police on Wednesday formed a task group to investigate the siblings' killings. They did not say if they now have leads on who killed the victims and why they were murdered.
'GOD HELP ALL OF US'
ABS-CBN News reached out to relatives and friends of the siblings, but they declined to make a statement in public out of fear for their own lives.
One relative said they need help amid fear that they may be the next ones shot dead by the unknown gunmen.
Philippine Star columnist and multi-awarded writer Jose 'Butch' Dalisay Jr., an uncle of Lauren's boyfriend, couldn't help but speak up.
"Remember Lauren Rosales? Her brother was shot dead this morning by a gunman. Pity their mother, God help all of us!" he said on Twitter Wednesday.
In an essay published in Esquire magazine last September, Dalisay said it was hard not to place Lauren's killing "in the daily continuum of murders—mostly of poor, young Filipino men—quite openly tagged though not claimed by the police as drug-related."
"Indeed, without any proof whatsoever, the tabloid Abante reported her murder in the context of six other gangland-style liquidations that same day of persons on the drug pushers’ watchlist of the Manila police," he said.
"Lauren, 26, was most emphatically uninvolved in the drug trade, enjoying her career as an executive assistant at a leading food company, a job she took after working at a call center; the closest she got to drugs was at the Carewell Foundation, where she helped take care of cancer patients," he said.
"We may have our suspects, but we have no proof, and the breath that exhales those names could very well be one’s last," he added. "Our dear, hapless Lauren wasn’t the only collateral damage in this offensive—it’s every citizen’s peace of mind, that spasm that now seizes you when a stranger turns up at your door or on your rear-view mirror with malice aforethought."
The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group has monitored 2,197 killings in the war on drugs from May 10 to October 26, 2016.
Killed during police operations: 1,264
Killed by unidentified assailants: 775
Bodies found away from the crime scene: 158
Seven people die on average daily due to police operations, while 13 on average die every day in all drug-related killings, according to the data.
Dalisay, in his essay, asked if Lauren was "collateral damage in the new administration’s all-too-literal war on drugs."
"I’m not even sure if extrajudicial killing is the proper subject of this piece, because no one really knows, at least not yet, who shot Lauren, and why," he said. "Did someone have to scratch his head and say, “Sorry, boss, I got the wrong one, but I’ll make sure to get it right tomorrow."
"I know we’re hardly alone in this gray zone of grief and rage and fear; whoever put us there made sure we’d have ample room. Lauren’s wake was teeming with mourners, some of whom had similar stories to tell. We could imagine half a dozen other wakes—her unlikely companions in that tabloid report—that same night in that same city, perhaps in lean-tos along the street with a card game on the side, or in some dim parlor in the suburbs, with only a mother and a sniveling sister to mind the dead," the UP English professor added.
"It’s nonfiction of the worst kind, a waking nightmare we can’t seem to break out of. Our dear, hapless Lauren wasn’t the only collateral damage in this offensive—it’s every citizen’s peace of mind, that spasm that now seizes you when a stranger turns up at your door or on your rear-view mirror with malice aforethought. We cremated Lauren, but there’s no rest for the living."
Duterte, during his campaign for the presidency, said 100,000 people would die when he launches his war on crime.
The Philippine National Police and Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar have said that the country's crime rate was declining as a result of the Duterte administration's campaign.
PNP data presented to the Senate earlier this month, however, show that serious crime was already in decline during the administration of Duterte's predecessor, President Benigno Aquino.
The police figures show that from January to August in 2015, serious crime was down 22 percent compared with the same period the previous year. In 2014, it declined 26 percent.
While the crime rate has been dropping for several years, under Duterte the murder rate has risen since he launched his anti-drug campaign. In the first three months of his administration, police recorded a total of 3,760 murders, compared with 2,359 in the same period last year, a rise of 59 percent.