Philippines

Thou shalt not kill

The masked gunman who murdered my brother-in-law never silenced a just and prayerful man just because he killed him

Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Manila

Updated: November 30, 2021 01:44 AM GMT

A policeman mans a checkpoint along a road in Cebu City during quarantine restrictions. A Catholic lay minister was gunned down in a market in the city on Nov. 28. (Photo: AFP)

In the Philippines' second-largest urban center, Cebu City, Danilo Bacalso — a lay minister of Inayawan Pardo Parish, a man of faith and my brother-in-law — was shot dead in broad daylight inside a public market.

Witnessed by many and captured by police CCTV, a motorcycle-riding masked gunman fled after shooting him twice in the head on Nov. 28. Terrified witnesses saw his lifeless body. Two witnesses attempted to run after the gunman, but to no avail.

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This sight does not raise eyebrows, especially in poor urban communities in all nooks and crannies of the country, as the Rodrigo Duterte regime continues its war on drugs, pushing statistics of extrajudicial executions to alarming levels.  

After Philip Alston, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, visited the Philippines in 2007, his recommendations were and continue to be ignored. He was cursed by Duterte himself.

My memories of my brother-in-law, whom we fondly called Ondo Danny, date back to the early 80s when we used to celebrate events with our parents-in-law.  He was a family man. He raised five children by the sweat of his brows and loved his family so dearly — for better and for worse.  

Life may have been hard on him, yet his skills and resourcefulness enabled him to earn a house and a farm of his own.

Like Judas who betrayed Jesus, the killer ran away with his money. But he never silenced a just and prayerful man just because he killed him

When my husband disappeared, Danny searched for him from pillar to post. And indeed, he gave us the lead that brought my husband back after the nightmares of torture.

When my father died, he went to our Southern Leyte province to grieve with us. When we visited Cebu, we enjoyed his company, laughed at his jokes. My son Bryan happily took physical exercise with him.

A year ago, Danny did his utmost best to help us sell the precious inheritance of my husband, helping us to make both ends meet during the pandemic.

My husband Edsil has this to say: My instant reaction after knowing about my brother's treacherous killing was that of vengeance. At the height of anger and untold grief, I vowed to take revenge. Yet my brother minister pricks my conscience and says, 'Vengeance is not yours.'

Indeed. Recovering from critical Covid, I realize that this betrayal is worse than Covid. A violation of the right to life, it is against the 5th Commandment, 'Thou shall not kill.' Like Judas who betrayed Jesus, the killer ran away with his money. But he never silenced a just and prayerful man just because he killed him.

Adib, Danny's third child, said her father was a man of God, a loving husband, a caring father. Mercilessy killed. I am dismayed.

More importantly, being a devout lay minister of his parish in Inayawan, Danilo was a man of faith. These are memories that are like shadows that refuse to leave.

Going down memory lane, I can only heave a sigh of grief and of anger.

Danny's wife Baby was in hospital when the incident occurred. From the bottom of her heart, she laments being unable to accept the death of a man she vowed to live with for the rest of her life. She does not know why he was killed,  but she is assured that her husband is now in heaven.

Wherever you are now, we are sure that you are now in the loving embrace of your maker

Danilo's children, sisters and brothers were shocked, angered and grieved. The perpetrator escaped.

He might be laughing and devouring the money he must have earned by taking away the life of an innocent man.

Danilo's killing coincides with the announcement of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines about the commemoration of the Day of the Faithful Departed. May his soul and those of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

We console ourselves that death is not extinguishing the light but putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Wherever you are now, we are sure that you are now in the loving embrace of your maker.  

As we pray for you, please pray for us who are left behind. Rest in peace, our dearest brother.

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