War on drugs: The families left behind

Patty Pasion
War on drugs: The families left behind
Thousands have died in the government’s brutal war against illegal drugs. Here are some of the stories of the families they left behind.

MANILA, Philippines – When Marites Fernandez realized how lives of illegal drug users and pushers were at risk with the massive anti-illegal drugs campaign, she was quick to warn her brother Eduardo Francisco.

Bimbo, she told him, “Huwag ka nang lalabas kasi napakadelikado. Sunod-sunod ang patayan. Sabi [nila] lahat ng sumusuko, ganun pala ang ginagawa.”

(Bimbo, don’t go out because it’s very dangerous. There have been successive killings. They said that’s what they do to those who turn themselves in.)

Marites, 40, said her brother was among those who surrendered to local authorities the moment the government announced those who promised not to do drugs again would be immune from arrest.

Marites did not deny her brother’s involvement in drugs. She said Francisco only did it because he had no other means of providing for his wife and 3 children – including a 4-month-old baby.

“Someone – I do not know – gives him a pack of drugs, which he has to sell to earn money. He only gets a small portion of the money, which he automatically allocates to buy rice for his family,” Marites said in Filipino. 

“Basta ang importante sa kanya, makabili siya ng bigas,” she added. (What’s important for him is, he is able to buy rice.)

Bimbo was gunned down by unidentified men riding a motorcycle on August 23 in Barangay Rosario, Pasig City. Barangay officials said he was invited that night to a late dinner at a nearby tapsihan (eatery) by a police asset.    

Although she is uncertain who the people behind her brother’s death are, Marites wished Bimbo was instead arrested.

“Sana kung ganun na lang pala, sana kinulong na lang nila – nakita pa naming buhay ‘yung kapatid ko. Ang dami na naming problema, dinagdagan pa nila,” Marites said as she wept before her brother’s coffin.

(If that was going to be the case, they should have just arrested him – then we would have still seen our brother alive. They just added to our already many problems.)


border-left: 2px;background-color: rgba(0,0,0, 0.5);color: white;“> “Kung napatunayan niyo, kulong niyo na lang eh, o kaya patayin niyo sa harap ko, papayag pa ako. Pero ‘yung walang kalaban-laban, papatayin niyo at pagbibintangan nyo pa, parang ang sakit naman kasi nun.”


Marie refused to be named because she did not want to compromise her family’s plans to file a case against the police. She strongly believes that the drugs found in her brother’s home the night the police tried to arrest him were planted by authorities.

Her brother was shot because he fought back, she said. 

“Our family thinks that the drugs were planted. Because first, we know how he sleeps. Second, the drugs were in the cabinet where he keeps his clothes. There was a cigarette box there. The cigarette was Mighty. But he doesn’t smoke that brand. You’ll figure it out too. That’s common sense,” she said in Filipino. 

She also denied her brother’s involvement in illegal drugs. But if it were true, she said the police could have just arrested him.

“Masakit din. Kung napatunayan niyo, kulong niyo na lang eh, o kaya patayin niyo sa harap ko, papayag pa ako. Pero ‘yung walang kalaban-laban, papatayin niyo at pagbibintangan niyo pa, parang ang sakit naman kasi nun,” she said.

(It’s painful. If you had proven it, you could have detained him or killed him in front of me, I’d even agree to that. But to kill him when he was defenseless and accuse him, that’s too painful.)

Marie is keen on filing a case against the police to give justice to her brother’s death, also calling on others to collectively stand up against the killings.  

“I just want justice for him. Because based on what I see from reports, they said that he fought back and he had a 38-caliber gun and drugs. I think the people know that it’s really just evidence planted by the police.” – Rappler.com  

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.