THE first Bisaya word that came to mind was “Mangtas.” For who could have done such a bestial, if not most evil, act to Christine Lee Silawan? The 16-year old girl, whose face was skinned and whose lifeless body was left in a vacant lot in Lapu-Lapu City, must have endured so much pain in the hands of the murderer/s. This gruesome crime has shocked not just the Cebuano community but the entire world. Sympathies have come from all over, while demand for justice has been universal.
The grief must have been unfathomable for the mother, Lourdes, who collapsed when she saw the remains of her daughter. Whereas the anger could barely be contained by Louisiline, sister of the victim, who said the crime was so brutal and that the murderer/s should be made to rot in jail rather than be meted the death penalty. The Commission on Human Rights issued a statement describing the act as desecrating human dignity and that no one deserves to experience such violence. For its part, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu chapter described the crime as “an act of pure evil” and called on the authorities to catch the monster/s responsible.
There is no way that the criminal/s will escape the long arm of the law, for surely, no parent or sibling will provide refuge or a hiding place. Justice will be served.
But does it have to take a vicious act against Christine Lee Silawan for us to be united against murders happening in our community? For the past few years, killings have become like daily fare in the local news. No one seems immune, not lawyers, not politicians, not businessmen, not suspected drug dealers, not even law enforcers. It is like we have come to accept murder as part of the ills of society. Hired assassins have made killing seem like a regular day job. More so that most of the culprits have gotten away with their crimes to the dismay of families of victims.
When I was in elementary school, I saw the bloodied body of an individual lying on the corner of R.R. Landon and Junquera Streets, as I was walking home after class. The child in me could not comprehend why people kill other people. In my teens, I was shocked when a youthful cousin was stabbed in Colon Street when he was mistaken by the culprit for a member of a rival gang. Those experiences must have contributed to my disdain for guns and knives. I never had one, and never will.
It is different now. Young people and children are exposed to killings that come often in the news, and at times, happen in the neighborhood where they live. It becomes more real to them when individuals they know become victims. It must be very stressful to the students of the Maribago National High School, knowing what has happened to Christine Lee.
There is need to unite not just in the condemnation of the murder of Christine Lee, but all the murders that have happened in recent years. There is need to unite in calling on the government to keep our communities safe and that justice be served. There is need to unite in declaring that life is precious; that killing is wrong, and that evil has no place in this world.