Fiscal: ‘It’s a miracle I’m here’-A A +A
Saturday, March 23, 2013
WHEN she was still in the hospital, Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño saw a flicker of light and two dead persons.
These visions, she recalled, were what pushed her to fight for her life.
“At that point, I decided to breathe,” said Casiño, who was shot by retired Canadian journalist John Pope outside the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 1 last Jan. 22. “Wa ko ka-feel nga himatyon ko (I did not feel I was dying).”
She visited the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday, after she had her therapy session in a hospital, as a “step towards closure.”
She considers her survival a miracle. She thanks God for a second life, for her friends and family who supported her while she was confined.
“My children are still small, that’s why I’m still here,” she said in Cebuano.
She was greeted at her workplace by her fellow prosecutors and other staff. Balloons adorned her cubicle, along with a poster on the wall with this message: “Welcome, Matet.”
Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Jose Nathaniel Andal even wrote a song for her.
Before she was shot, Casiño recalled that she met Pope on the hallway. She was on her way to the MTCC Branch 1 and noticed no “physical manifestation of evil” from the foreigner.
“I was not afraid of him,” said Casiño, who recalled wondering why Pope was there when he had no scheduled hearing at MTCC Branch 1.
After she passed by Pope, he shot her in the head. But she doesn’t recall hearing a gunshot.
“I thought I suffered a stroke,” she said. “I felt heaviness in my body and I knew was going to fall.”
She lost her consciousness for a few seconds, but she woke up.
“Gisultian ko, ‘Fiscal, ayaw katulog ha? Padung na ang ambulansiya. Fight, ha?’ (Someone told me not to fall asleep, the ambulance was on its way and that I should fight),” she said.
Pope had shot and killed pediatric surgeon Dr. Reynold Rafols and his lawyer Jubian Achas inside the MTCC Branch 6, before attacking Casiño.
The foreigner reportedly shot himself in the head after he failed to elude the policemen who shot him in the leg and arm.
Casiño said her doctors informed her that she was shot two days after the incident.
She returned home last Feb. 9, ending a 19-day stay in the hospital. Last Feb. 5, doctors removed the bullet that was lodged in her head.
“I was not traumatized,” she said.
At home, she has some difficulty walking up the stairs and scratching her children’s backs before they sleep.
But while her body’s left portion is still numb and her vision is blurry, Casiño said she is eager to go back to her work, which is prosecuting suspected criminals. For that, she still has to wait for her doctor’s clearance.
“(My husband) knows I love my job,” she said.
As to Pope, Casiño said the thought of forgiving the foreigner is only a matter of time.
“I try not to think about him. It’s not too far away to fully forgive him,” she said.
“Di ko kaingon og 100 percent forgiveness at this point. Wala man sad koy kalagot niya (I cannot say I’ve forgiven him 100 percent at this time, but I have no hatred towards him).”
The Sto. Niño devotee said she knows she has a mission in life and she is seeking divine guidance to figure it out. Her ordeal has allowed her to experience miracles coming from her friends, family and strangers who helped her.
“I was surrounded by love,” she said. “He is a very loving God.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2013.