Husband, daughter killed: Must she grieve alone?

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2009

One morning last December the headlines shocked the nation. Sixteen persons had been killed the night before in a shootout in Parañaque City.

Twelve of the dead were a cop and 11 alleged robbers. More dreadful was that the four others were civilians — a night watchman, an expressway supervisor on his way to work, and a father and daughter in a van. Initial reports were that they had been hit in the crossfire. Neighbors later recounted that policemen had fired dozens of rounds at Lea Alyana, 7, and her father Alfredo de Vera, 47, as they were exiting their residential subdivision to pick up mother-wife Lilian. The girl was hit first. As the policemen continued shooting, Alfredo lifted his daughter out of the van and ran for cover. The cops approached and fired more shots.

The public raged. The press editorialized. The National Police brass mumbled an apology. Politicians dutifully fumed before the cameras. And then everyone forgot — except Lilian, who to this day seeks justice. Below is her letter, circulating in the Internet, edited to fit this space, appealing so that what happened to her family will not happen to ours:

Two months ago I considered myself one of the happiest people on earth. Why not? I married a man who was the epitome of kindness. Our union was blessed with a daughter who became our main source of joy . . . the center of our lives.

We’re simple folk who led a simple life. We felt happiest even about mundane things — like a sudden trip to Jollibee or a late night raiding the fridge. A perfect family with simple delights, dreams and aspirations … until that fateful night of Dec. 5, 2008, when my husband and daughter were taken away from me in a very violent way.

That Friday night marked the beginning of my terror, anguish and misery.

In keeping with my panata on every first Friday of the month, I went to Quiapo Church to pay homage to the Almighty. My husband and daughter were to pick me up in Pasay City, after which we planned on treating our daughter to Jollibee. While riding a jeep, I tried calling my husband to tell him I was on my way to our meeting place. He didn’t answer. Very unusual, since he seldom missed my calls. In trepidation, I took the next jeep going home and prayed that everything was all right. I promised myself to forgive my husband for not answering my calls and forgetting to pick me up.

I felt relieved when near our place my phone rang. The relief was momentary. The call I got was the bearer of the worst news in my life.  My helper said “men in uniform” had shot my husband and daughter to death. The same men who were sworn to protect innocent people from bad guys brutally had slain the two most important persons in my life. They had a duty to preserve lives against harm. Yet they murdered my love ones in the most cruel, savage way.

My husband’s face was unrecognizable because he was shot in the head at close range while kneeling with head bowed. My daughter’s young body was riddled with bullets; one hit her head, blowing her brains out … all from powerful guns fired by uniformed men at two innocent, defenseless persons.

The men in uniform were allegedly on a mission to take on a gang of robbers. The police shot the van my husband and daughter were riding. Based on witnesses’ narratives, they sprayed bullets into the van with no provocation or shots coming from it. In his last effort to save their lives, my husband grabbed my bloodied daughter and shielded her with his body while running away from the police and taking cover behind a parked jeepney. My husband and daughter were so defenseless. How can you mistake a child for a robber? How can you shoot someone who was already kneeling with head bowed, an indication of helplessness?

My husband and daughter are gone . . . forever. The pain I feel from their loss is too much to bear. My only motivation to go on living is to seek justice for their senseless killing. If the people responsible for their death will be punished, as they deserve, my pain would be alleviated. The misery I live with will lessen. My husband and daughter will be vindicated and I will learn to live my remaining years in peace.

I’m begging everyone who comes across this letter to forward it to all your relatives, friends and acquaintances. Help me bring my cause to the eyes of the people capable of steering the wheel of justice to the right direction. Help me make the loudest cry worthy of attention by those people in charge of rendering justice to all.

Strength comes in numbers; it is where the impossible becomes possible. It is also where the unattainable becomes achievable.

My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who will take a moment from their busy lives to relay this to everyone they know. May God always protect you and your loved ones from harm.–Jarius Bondoc, Philippine Star

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