Kenneth Biton’s unrealized dreams

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Aug) – Life is short and people die everyday. That’s a fact. But when somebody so young dies in a horrible way deluged with a sense of injustice, that’s a different story.

In this world where criminality dwells almost anywhere, life becomes unpredictable. Some people don’t suffer natural death such as those from old age and sickness. Some people don’t die when their gods want them to. Sometimes, even without their consent, their lives get decided by people they don’t even know. Such thing happened in the case of Kenneth Lloyd Biton, a 24-year-old working student who was murdered last Monday by three teenagers in this city known for its supposed low crime rate.

According to Patricia Biton, Kenneth’s mother, his son just got out from work after a meeting in the wee hours of the morning when the incident happened. He went to a bank in front of Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) along MacArthur Highway to withdraw cash for his planned birthday celebration later that day.

“His birthday was already planned. He already even invited his classmates and workmates for a small party,” Patricia.

She also shared that she’s used to him coming home late due to his work at Jollibee at SM City, but that night was different. “I couldn’t sleep that night. At 3 a.m., somebody knocked on our door and broke the news. I couldn’t believe it, I felt like I was going to die.”

According to reports, three members of the Sagrado Gang in Matina mauled Kenneth. When the victim refused to give his mobile phone and wallet and tried to fight back, he was stabbed in the abdomen by the three teenagers.

Patricia shared that his son probably fought back because he valued his hard-earned money. “It was just sad. Instead of celebrating his birthday, we are now here for his wake,” she said.

It pains Patricia to think of his son’s death that she couldn’t even manage to go inside his room since the day he died. She says it hurts her to remember what happened to her son, whom she describes as very hardworking, sweet and loving.

Kenneth was a commerce student majoring in banking and finance at the Holy Cross of Davao College. He was supposed to graduate this school year. To help defray his school expenses, he had been working at Jollibee for the past four years. Patricia said he must have been very diligent because he was promoted as supervisor even though he still didn’t have a college degree.

The youngest among six children, it was his major desire to finish college and help out in the family expenses, said his mother. “When he was still alive, he always told me that when he graduates, he will work harder to alleviate our situation,” Patricia said.

The Biton household is crowded as some of Kenneth’s elder siblings who have children opted to stay with their mother, a widow in her 70s.

Kenneth also wanted to become a flight attendant and dreamed of going abroad.

Patricia recalls her son to be obedient and disciplined. “School-work-home. That’s his usual routine. He liked to play computer games, watch movies and listen to music. He didn’t go out much often but he had a lot of friends.”

According to Patricia, they were able to receive help from the local government and that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte himself visited and offered them help. She appreciates the help, noting that the family has been having difficulties in financing his son’s burial.

Despite what the Biton family is going through, they are grateful that the suspects, only just teenagers, have been arrested and will be tried in court.

A provision in Republic Act 9344, also known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, states: “A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment.”

Supt. Julius Silagan, of the Talomo Police Station, said that the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) interviewed the accused and issued that there was discernment in this case.

The Supreme Court, in a decision made in 2011, said that “discernment is that mental capacity of a minor to fully appreciate the consequences of his unlawful act.”

Silagan said that inquest proceedings were already conducted on Wednesday and murder cases against the three teenagers were already filed.

As for Kenneth’s mother, she said she’s pleased that the teenagers who killed his son were captured right away. All she asks is that they be meted with the right penalty for their crime and that the local government help them in their fight for justice.

But she also called on the local government to provide programs for rehabilitation for the many children and teenagers who are involved in crimes.

“Killing them won’t bring back my son’s life anyway,” she said. (Florienne Melendrez / MindaNews)