Mother narrates to CHR how she lost four sons to summary killings

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews/31 March) — The audience, mostly from government, fell into a hush as Clarita Alia, a mother who lost four sons to summary execution, was called by Commission on Human Rights chair (CHR) Leila de Lima at 2:49 p.m. to deliver her statement at the public inquiry on extralegal killings last Monday.

De Lima had earlier heard Alia’s testimony as well as those they met behind closed doors at lunch, those who did not want to come out in public. She said they narrated “a horrific tale of anguish.”

But Alia was the lone victims’ relative who came to the public hearing to make a  statement in Cebuano, interrupted several times as she broke down in tears, when an innocent grandchild recited “Gagambino, Gagambino” within her microphone’s reach and when the commissioners at the presidential table required translation.

In some instances, translation was no longer required. The depth of her grief did not need translation. And “pulis,” her primary suspects behind the killing of her sons, requires no translation.

“How many more mothers will cry, how many more children will they kill?” Alia had asked in 2005. At that time, she had lost three sons – Richard and Christopher in 2001, Bobby in 2002 and had sent her fourth son, Fernando, then 12, to another place, “so he would live.”

Fernando lived until April 2007. Like his three brothers, he, too, became a victim of summary killing.

And no policeman, not even the barangay, she told the CHR inquiry, bothered toinvestigate the cases of her sons.

“Walay ni isa nag-imbestiga kay kawatan man gud daw” (No one investigated because they said they were thieves), Alia said, crying.

She said she did not go to the police because a policeman allegedly warned her “isa-isahon” (he would kill her sons one by one).

With the help of Tambayan, an NGO helping out of school youth, Alia said she reported the cases to the CHR regional office.

“Basin pila pa ka tuig, dili ko muundang” (No matter how many years it will take, I will not stop), she had said several times in the past.

In a 2005 interview, Alia said the policemen were mad at her because she knows her rights, having attended basic paralegal seminars, and knowing thus, was not afraid to file complaints before the barangay captain, the CHR and the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao.

In the same interview, Alia said her three sons were, at one point in their lives, in conflict with the law, but added they underwent rehabilitation and that some of the alleged charges against them were trumped up.

Besides, she said, there is due process of the law. “If they committed a crime, they could be arrested and jailed. But why were they killed?”

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan, who delivered the last statement on Day One ofthe inquiry, said “you have heard the grief-stricken mother,” referring to Alia.

“I believe the pain should be shared by all those who live in this city,” she said.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao City chapter submitted Monday afternoonto the CHR its documentation of 890 cases of summary killings in the city from 1998 to March 27, 2009. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)