PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has been taking actions against illegal drug trade since the day he declared the nationwide war against drugs. Moreover, there are about 7,000 lives killed in and outside police operations. Duterte clarified that he will continue his battle against illegal drugs until the end of his term on the year 2022.
Does this war against drugs of President Duterte truly help the Filipino people live in peace and harmony or does it just aggravate the lives of those people in the lower part of the societal hierarchy?
Myrna Pialago, a resident of Mangalcal, Carmen, Davao del Norte, mourns the death of his son Roland “Tata” Pialago, an alleged victim of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Roland was fatally shot by an unknown person last February 23 at around 6 p.m. in the province of Tibal-og, Davao del Norte. Roland “Tata” Pialago is the third son of Myrna and Melicio Pialago. Tata has four children with his wife Rachel Pialago.
According to Myrna, Tata is a diligent person who worked at the farm alongside his father. But, when the irrigation system experienced irregularity in releasing water for their crops, Roland decided to find another job in Tibal-og since it is where his wife resides.
Tata, as described by his mother, is an assiduous person who refused to ask his mother for money unlike the rest of his brothers. Tata had always found ways to earn for his family.
However, Tata only had temporary jobs since he did not finish secondary education. Also, companies refuse to hire him due to his age and educational attainment.
Tata had a brother named Rodel Pialago who was arrested on a drug bust of the Philippine National Police (PNP). According to the assistant prosecutor’s report, Rodel was caught on a drug bust while selling 0.0624 of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu to Police Officer 3 Ronde Oblimar who acted as a sham buyer.
Upon the arrest of Rodel, speculations sprouted that the rest of Rodel’s brothers were included in the drug’s watchlist of the PNP. All of Rodel’s brothers including Tata surrendered to the police to clear out the rumors about the “Pialago Team,” who were suspected as pushers and users of illegal drugs.
“Wa 'ko makakuan kung gabaligya ba gyud na sila, pero dili ko kaingon na wala na sila kakaon kay niuso baya 'na (I don’t have any idea if they sell drugs but I also cannot say that they never used illegal drugs since it became a trend back then),” Myrna, the mother, said.
On the day that Tata was killed, Tata’s mother received a call from Tata’s friends informing them that Tata was shot. When they arrived Tata was already in the funeral parlor and the body was strangely soaking wet.
According to the tenants of the funeral parlor, the body allegedly fell on a canal and, at the same time, they experienced a heavy rain when his body was found.
His family looked for any remaining belongings of Tata and the tenants said that his belongings were allegedly confiscated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. According to Tata’s mother, Tata’s jewelries and other belongings went missing after he was killed.
However, conferring to PDEA’s statement, Tata’s death was due to a shoot-out or an encounter between two armed groups. The PDEA’s reports showed that Tata was killed by people who are not related to any government agencies especially the PNP.
The Pialago family believes that justice will take lots of money to be served. Due to poverty and lack of witnesses, they think that they will never achieve fair justice for Tata’s death. There are people who said that they know something about the incident but they refuse to stand as witnesses in the court.
“Pagkamatay niya gilubong wala nalang 'mi ingon na makakita'g hustisya kay murag perti baya namong pobreha baya 'gyud (When Tata died we just buried him and never expected justice because we are very poor),” Myrna said.
The family consulted the PNP before burying Tata’s body and they agreed upon certain conditions. He did not undergo an autopsy before he was buried because of the family’s financial status. And for his funeral, their family friends and neighbors were the one who helped them financially.
“Nalubong tuod siya, pero ang bala naa gihapon sa iyang lawas… Ilubong nalang sa limot kung makalimot man (Yes, he was buried but the ammos were still inside his body… We will bury it until we forget it, if we ever forget it),” Myrna said.
She also said that if the war against drugs will continue, there will be a lot of lives taken because the world is filled with drug dependent people. She wants the government to investigate fairly regardless of financial status.
“Lisoda aning pobre kaayo ta oy kay kita may unaho'g patay kaning mga datu bisan mahigtan na buhian pa (It is difficult to be poor because we are susceptible to death but when the rich gets caught they can easily be freed),” Myrna said.
Tresha Anne C. Forto is a student of Ateneo de Davao University.