A pang of guilt hit me in the gut. Almost four years in, the killings have not stopped. It was just we who stopped looking.
I met up with Vincent at the corner of the alley where the victim lived, and we crouch into the pathway of low-hanging roofs together.
In the dimness of the alley, the unmistakeable glow of funerary lamps stood out. There the man lay, in a coffin topped with his favorite snacks, and a dirty yellow chick walking back and forth on the glass over his face. Mark Anthony Ruivivar, Mack-Mack to his friends.
Papadaddy to his son and wife. Born on Christmas Eve of 1993, gunned down on night of December 2, 2019 by the Philippine National Police.
A cellphone video, that to this day no one admits taking, shows the moments after the shots were fired.
It starts from the rooftop of one of the houses, showing people looking down on the street. Then a chilling, desperate voice, a half-scream.
“Iggyboy... Iggyboy…wala na si Papadaddy…”
The camera tilts down to the alley below. Five men were carrying a male body out by the arms and legs. Again, the voice, this time morphing into a heart-stopping wail.
“Pinatay niyo si Papadaddy!”
The taker of the video runs down to the street, capturing glimpses of panicked faces and more voices of anger.
“Puntahan mo, Jhieanne!”
“Putanginang ‘yan, pupuntahan ko si Kuya Mack!”
“Hindi yan masamang tao!”
Sobbing follows the video as it chases down the men.
“Bakit niyo binaril? Naghuhugas lang yan ng plato, grabe naman kayo!”
According to Mack-Mack’s family, they were getting ready for dinner when Mack-Mack went down to wash dishes for them. That was when they heard the multiple shots, and saw Mack-Mack sprawled on the floor.
The video taker catches up to the men carrying the body. They are heavily armed, some in plainclothes, others in shirts that bore the letters CIDU. They keep walking away, carrying Mack-Mack with them.
A male voice shouts angrily, “Dadalhin namin sa ospital!”
The now-familiar female voice shouts back, “Dadalhin niyo, eh patay na?”
Then men keep walking, occasionally dropping the heavyset Mack-Mack back on the ground as they rest their arms.
“Ayusin niyo naman! Ginawa niyo nang baboy yan!” the woman screams.
A heavy object falls, seemingly from on top of Mack-Mack’s body and clatters on the street. It was a pistol.
“Ay,” said one of the men, who proceeded to pick it up and put it in his back pocket.
“Huwag kayong lumapit sa amin, ha!” said his companion, the sweeper, pointing his finger at onlookers and holding his rifle.
“Mga putangina niyo! Mga putangina niyo!” was all the woman could say.
The men reach the waiting vehicle marked “PULIS,” “CIDU,” and “QC 78.” It takes them a while before they are able to load the body into the car, pulling on Mack-Mack’s arms and legs different ways as the rest of him lay on the street.
The car door shuts and reveals the marking “Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.” CIDU.
They drive away with no explanation. The video ends.
The next day, the Quezon City Police District’s Facebook page uploads a press release: “Notorious rob suspect dies in encounter with QCPD-CIDU.”
It tags Mack-Mack as responsible for several incidents of robbery with homicide, and that he engaged the CIDU operatives in a shootout that prompted them to fire back. At the hospital, said the press release, a packet of shabu was found on his body.
The press release ends with the QCPD chief commending his men for their efforts.
At the wake, we met a young boy who says he witnessed the entire incident.
He was fidgety, and broke out in a cold sweat as he recounted what he saw. Indeed, he said, Mack-Mack was washing dishes when the police operatives approached.
"Nakataas yung kamay, binaril pa po,” said the boy, wringing his hands uneasily. “Sinusuksukan siya dito—” pointing to the waistband of his shorts.
“Sino?” asked Vincent.
“Yung mga pulis. Tapos nilagyan pa ng shabu dito,” said the boy, pointing to his other side.
“Sinusuksok nila ng?”
“Baril. Eh nakahubad,” said the boy, who said he saw how Mack-Mack’s loose shorts couldn’t hold the weight of the gun.
“Nakita nilang buhay pa, tapos binalikan. Binaril pa.”
The boy has had trouble sleeping since then.