ABOUT 1,300 parents, teachers and schoolmates of Jezreel Higida marched to demand justice for the teenager who was buried yesterday, less than a month before her 16th birthday.
The “Walk for Justice” took place in Argao town and included a ceremony where candles, arranged to form the word “justice”, were lit inside a sports center.
After his daughter’s death, Conrado Higida, 51, said he now supports restoring the death penalty for convicted criminals. Two men have been charged with murder for Jezreel’s death.
“Gusto ko mamatay sila kanang hinay-hinay, kanang mag-antos sila sa tumang kasakit sama sa nahiagoman sa akong anak (I want them to die slowly, and I want them to suffer what they put my daughter through),” Conrado said.
The family decided on an open casket for Jezreel, but her face had to be wrapped with a piece of cloth.
Jezreel never managed to finish her two-kilometer walk to school last March 7. She was found in a grassy lot, already dead. An autopsy showed she had not been raped.
The theory is that she was resisting the advances of two men, and then they killed her. Elmo Judilla Relatibo, 24, and Raymond Mansueto Albuera, 22, are now detained and awaiting a murder trial.
A third suspect, Rowin “Roy” Saraosos, 41, was charged with abandonment and failing to assist the helpless, a violation under the Revised Penal Code.
The girl’s death has prompted calls in Argao, which has a population of some 69,503, to act more aggressively against the illegal drug problem.
Monsignor Camilo Alia, the parish priest, said that Jezreel’s death was a wake-up call for government authorities to solve the illegal drug problem in Cebu.
Lawyer Jonathan Villegas Sr., a relative and counsel of the girl’s family, said he hoped that everyone, not just the police and government authorities, would help solve the illegal drug problem.
Jezreel is survived by Conrado, who works in Guadalupe, Cebu City; her sisters Ruby, 20, and Genevie, 18; and her only brother Joey, 12.
Joey recalled that on the night before his sister was killed, he woke up when he heard someone walking around their house, as if looking for something.
He said his father was still sleeping at that time. He usually left for work at dawn every Monday.
Jezreel’s grandmother, Marcelena Paller Higida, 63, said that her granddaughter had dreamed of becoming a teacher.
On the night before Jezreel was killed, her grandmother said, she went to the house of an uncle and aunt and sang along to a videoke machine. Jezreel then requested her uncle to upload her performance on YouTube, because that might make her famous.
One of the girl’s aunts, Delila Mercador, said that Jezreel’s mother Divina died of an illness last May 16, 2015. The following month, last June 28, 2015, Jezreel’s uncle Vicente, 45, was murdered in Misamis Oriental.
A cousin of Jezreel’s, Diane Higida of the Cebu governor’s office, said that some people have offered to help send the girl’s siblings to school.
During yesterday’s activity, Argao Municipal Administrator Geymar Pamat said he has heard people ask why the government has failed to stop the trade and abuse of illegal drugs.
“Is it because national leaders and national government officials are protectors of drug traffickers?” Pamat said in his speech.
Ivon Castronuevo, the president of Jezreel’s class, said in her speech that unless the government solves the illegal drug problem, the community will cease to think of Cebu as a safe place.
Jezreel’s classmates wept as they lit candles in her memory and offered prayers.