THE war against illegal drugs may be a boon to most Filipinos, but it is bane for families and parents whose children are victims of extra-judicial killings.
Two fathers, kilometers apart from each other, share the same anxiety over what they call the worst of times in their life.
Tomas Abesamis 65, of Peñaranda town in Nueva Ecija has been looking for his 45-year-old son, Eugene, who went missing on July 5. What scares him was the grim picture of Eugene, a police asset (informant), being dumped somewhere with arms tied, mouth gagged, and a cardboard sign “I am a drug pusher” hanging around his cold, blood-stained body.
The police got the report of the disappearance of Abesamis a day after he was allegedly abducted. After doing his business at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Cabanatuan that day, Eugene and his seven-year-old daughter took a tricycle on their way home. Along Barangay Tagpos in Santa Rosa town, five masked men reportedly blocked their way and forcibly took Eugene, leaving the shocked girl alone.
The girl was later turned over to her grandparents by Tagpos village chairman Isaac Dela Cruz after reporting the abduction to the police.
The elder Abesamis admitted that Eugene was previously hooked on drugs and after his arrest in 2014 was used by the Peñaranda police as informer. He was tasked to get into the town’s drug network and other crimes.
The young Abesamis was also said to have resorted to extorting money from the drug suspects.
Before his abduction, Eugene related his “assignment” in Santa Rosa to his father and timed it with his overdue transaction with LTO-Cabanatuan.
Two days after Eugene failed to return home, Tomas sought the help of his fellow Catholic Lay Ministers, the local media, the police and Peñaranda Mayor Ferdinand “Bluboy” Abesamis, who is a relative.
To date, Tomas is hopeful they can still recover Eugene.
The case of Mang Ernesto, 64, of Cabanatuan City is different. His children – a female and three males – aged 38 to 44, are known in their community as drug pushers and users. He fears that anytime the authorities might swoop down on their house and catch them in the act of shabu-sniffing session or one of them may be found dumped somewhere – mutilated and lifeless.
His grown up children are in the list of 110 drug suspects who refused to heed the call for surrender of their barangay chairman.
“Why would they surrender? If they do, their names would already be marked and that is admitting they are really into drugs,” Mang Ernesto said in Tagalog.
Their neighbors also tried to talk them out of it, but the siblings said they use drugs to endure the rigors and stress of their job as house painters.
People in the neighborhood regularly notice tricycles parked in front of their rented apartment and suspicious persons would come and go after a few minutes, enough to complete a round of sniff of shabu.
Another neighbor said barangay officials found pieces of tin foil inserted in the ceiling of the suspects’ house during a surprise inspection recently.
But Mang Ernesto said: “That does not prove anything.” His wry smile reveals his long-held fear.
Mang Tomas and Mang Ernesto’s concern are only two of the many other parents, siblings and relatives whose sons or daughters are into drugs.
About 3,000 drug dependents and pushers in Nueva Ecija have surrendered since July 1, according to Central Luzon police Director Aaron Aquino. Of the number, 2,000 were from Cabanatuan City.