War on drugs: Slain 5-year-old buried in Dagupan City
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines - A blue teddy bear slumped over the glass lid of the 3-foot coffin. The mourners slogged through the floodwater, calf-high in the early morning of Wednesday, August 31, eight days after 5-year-old Danica Mae Garcia was killed in the crossfire by masked men taking aim at her grandfather.
Last August 23, a pair of masked men on a motorcycle stopped in front of the Garcia home in Mayombo, a small village whose homes went underwater in the high tide. One man leaped off the motorcycle and took aim with a pistol. Maximo Garcia, Danica's grandfather, was preparing lunch when he turned to see the intruder. He twisted out of the way, was shot twice in the back and once on the side, and ran limping to the swamps at the back of the house.
He hid for hours terrified. Maximo had surrendered 4 days before to the local police, after he was named in a local watchlist as a drug pusher. He denies the accusation, and so does his family, particularly since he has been near bedridden for a year after suffering a stroke in 2015.
Two of the bullets pierced a tarp hanging behind the front room. One of them hit Danica Mae, who was taking a bath in the alleywall behind the house. The bullet ripped through the back of her neck and passed through her cheek. She was dead when they found her in the water.
Maximo had chosen not to attend her funeral on Wednesday. He has been in hiding since leaving the hospital. The family is terrified Danica's killers will come back to finish the job.
The province of Pangasinan ranks sixth in fatalities since the administration's declaration of a bloody war on drugs.
As of August 31, data from the Philippine National Police show at least 900 drug suspects have been killed in legitimate operations. Over 1,160 have been killed outside police operations, bringing the total number of drug-related deaths to at least 2,055.
Aunts and uncles wiped tears around her coffin, the white casket rising a foot above the water in the front room where a vigilante had stormed in a week before. A half dozen white-clad children sat on tables. Her school picture sat beside the teddy bear, and a pair of yellow rubber ducks.
Danica's grandmother Gemma wept through the wake, moaning Danica's name again and again. She wept through the church service at the Church of St. Therese, through the long wet walk to the cementery, all the way through to the funeral where Danica's body was interned behind cement blocks.
She had packed boxes of chocolate milk and food into a plastic bag, just as she did when her granddaughter went to school in the morning. They were buried with Danica. She wanted to make sure Danica wouldn't go hungry in heaven. – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.