COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
February 26, 2003. Why? So another person is intended to be killed…. The perpetrators of the crime appeared to be so in a hurry they carried out their act in the middle of the school belt, right in the heart of the city of Tacloban. They could have waited for their target to move outside the city proper and probably have a challenging car chase. They also appeared to be so scared as to fire their target from behind (like back stabbing.) And so angry and “naniniguro” so as to use M-14 and M-16 rifles only intended for war. Well, they must be into some kind of war only this time who they destroyed is not the enemy.
I did not hear the initial shots, only the rat-at-at-at-at-at-at-at, then tat—tat-at—tat. Gunfire! Only they come from the other side of the road. In the last ten years, there are times when I hear gunshots being fired between midnight to late dawn from where I reside. But mostly they come from either the Magallanes (Esperas Avenue) or the Old Road Sagkahan area. I just dismissed them as maybe a drunken policeman or soldier firing freely at Cancabato Bay. So far, no one was reported dead.
That dawn of Monday, February 24, 2003 found me unusually awake. After hearing the shots, I could no longer sleep. A strange feeling crept within me. At about 4:30 a.m., I got up and started writing. But thirty
minutes later I went back to bed. I had fallen back to sleep only to be awakened at about eight in the morning by my daughter rushing home from school. She announced that there was an ambush. She saw the bullet-ridden vehicle and the blood on the road located between a bridge and the old gate of the LeyteNational High School. So I got up, turned on the radio, and started listening to the news.
Godofredo “Dingdong” Quimsing Jr., 30, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at past three in the morning that Monday. He is the son of a long time judge and current city legal officer of Tacloban City, Atty. Godofredo Quimsing Sr. Dingdong was driving his father’s vehicle with a male companion when fired with long-range firearms from another vehicle tailing him from behind. The empty bullets, more than twenty of the latest report, that were recovered from the crime scene proved to be coming from M-14 and M-16 military rifles.
For three days now I’ve been following the news on the radio, and again the several cases of unsolved killings that happened recently resurfaced. But the previous victims were known to be personalities in the drug scene. And like in the old movie “Hang Them High,” the public seemed to be silently condoning these menacing events and let them pass away unresolved. But the one we have right now happened to an innocent man about to be ordained as a priest. What a curious combination. At least, this time, the public made uproar.
This latest incident, however, should be a warning sign that the killings must stop. It creates an atmosphere of fear for the otherwise innocent civilians who go on with their normal lives. And a climate of fear breeds hostility among people whose basic freedoms are being jeopardized. A climate of fear simply delays the process of evolving into a more humane and civilized society.
Sometimes we have to suppress individual rights for the preservation of the State. But the State should not be an end in itself. Man should be the measure and his upliftment the final aim. And human rights respected at all levels. Drastic change at a given time probably is necessary, but continuous change is deforming and only makes mutants out of men.
Peace, indeed, can be achieved without tyranny. It happens to families. It can also happen to the bigger society.