A TALE OF THREE VIOLENT DEATHS FROM DAPECOL
Christmas season was in the air. This was in the last quarter of 2016. Dapecol chief security, Robert Quinto had just passed through his office in the prison camp before he headed back home. As he parked his vehicle in front of his house and disembarked, a shadowy figured appeared before him and instantly shot him on the chest. Three days later, Robert succumbed as a consequence of internal organ failure.
A month later, prison guard Willy Plasabas after his tour of duty in the main prison camp, went about his routine of passing by his parent’s house before going home. He was on his motorbike and a few kilometers away from his house when he was tailed by a riding in tandem characters. The back rider pulled his gun and shot close range Willy. The guard lost control of his bike and it crashed on the sidewalk. The gunner stopped by and walked towards an unconscious victim, aimed his gun on the head and gave the coup de grace.
Five weeks later, prison officer Kabungsuan Makilala, like all week ends before, prepared himself to leave the prison camp and visit his family in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, a four- hour drive from his place. He boarded a bus en route to his hometown when only a few kilometers before he left, while he was comfortably seated in front of the bus almost perpendicular to the driver, a gun man appeared at his back, aimed the gun on Makilala’s head and gave a single shot. The assailants fled away after the bus screeched to a stop and even managed to shoot it out with a responding police officer, who unfortunately was shot on the leg. The assassins flagged down a motorbike and used it in escaping from the scene. A few kilometers away, the motorcycle was found abandoned along the highway.
The victims are all prison officers from Davao Prison and Penal Farm. They are all still relatively young, in the prime of their age and at the peak of their respective career rank. They have made a mark in their performance, accumulated friends, met haters too but by and large, esteemed by their peers. They all died instantly from violence, from gunshot wound.
And there seems to be a pattern. They just left the prison camp and about to go home. All three are not aware that death follows them the very day they encountered it but they are more than aware that they faced real danger because of their institutional exposures.
Like ordinary prison officers who are constantly hounded with hazards and intrigues, constantly tarnished with innuendoes and rumors, blamed and impugned, maligned and slandered, to be murdered is farfetched. The worst that could befall them is to be administratively terminated from holding office or criminally convicted.
But these are difficult times when society is undergoing surgical changes. There is a war going on in the fringes of the provinces while another war has started on the slums against illegal drug users and peddlers. The law enforcement agencies of government have been directed to aim their firearms against the enemies of the State, against rebels, against criminals, against almost anything illegal. Criminal elements from syndicates to gangs have mounted their own firepower directed against anyone suspected of kowtowing with their enemies. To be hit at the cross fire is a collateral instance oftentimes ignored. Like rainfall, as in war everyone is subject to wetness. To be exterminated at this time meant a lot of implications; even if death is a result of accident. There will be insinuations that it happened as a consequence of the unfolding events. Even personal vendetta becomes a socially attributable response.
The deaths of these youthful prison officers may have shocked their friends and families but for sure, it never remedied any social defect nor created an advantage on anything at all.
It merely spelled a loss.