Mom laments ‘elusive’ justice for slain husband, adopted son
Arsenia Remedillo’s husband, Francisco, never smoked, drank or gambled.
But on June 17, 2017, the eve of Father’s Day, a masked man barged into the Remedillos’ house in Quezon City and shot the 68-year-old Francisco, hitting him near the nape. Francisco was killed outright.
The assailant then went after the Remedillos’ 36-year-old adopted son, Marlon dela Cruz, and shot him several times.
The deaths of Francisco and Marlon came toward the end of the first year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
In just two years, thousands have been killed in police operations and in attacks by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Most of the victims were from the poorest communities in Metro Manila.
The killings left thousands of grieving widows and orphans, for whom justice felt more and more elusive as months and years passed.
Despite her anger over her husband’s and her son’s deaths, Arsenia, 86, said seeking justice seemed futile.
“How can I get any justice? I have no idea who did this to them,” she said. “Maybe if I did, if I saw their faces, then I could go after them.”
But Remedillo did go after the killers. After Francisco and Marlon were shot, she ran after the gunman and was shocked to see five more masked men on motorbikes, acting as lookouts.
“I screamed at them and told them that I knew they were paid to kill,” she said. “But they just left.”
She was not afraid that the men would shoot her, too, she said. After all, they had already killed her family.
Remedillo said she knew that her adopted son used to take illegal drugs, influenced by his partner who had been jailed for peddling “shabu” (crystal meth).
Police records showed Marlon had on him two sachets of a substance believed to be shabu when he was killed.
“I knew he had already stopped using drugs. But my husband, he was mistaken for somebody else,” Remedillo said.
“I pray that my husband and my son watch over me. I leave their killers to God because there is nothing I can do now,” she said.
In 2016, Remedillo warned her husband not to vote for President Duterte “because you will die.”
She said she did not know why she had told him that, but something about the strongman from Davao City, who promised to fatten the fish in Manila Bay with the bodies of tens of thousands of drug users and peddlers, spooked her.
Francisco did not heed her advice. In May that year, he cast his vote for the President.
“My husband did not listen to me. Maybe if Duterte was not President, maybe he would still be alive,” Remedillo said.
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