Kin not losing hope girl slain in drug war will get justice
TAGBILARAN CITY—While justice remains elusive for Althea Fhem Barbon, the 4-year-old girl who died with her father after they were attacked by policemen conducting a drug bust in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental province last year, her family is not losing hope that those behind her death will be punished.
A relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wondered why the family’s demand for justice had been ignored.
“But we are still hoping justice will be given to her,” the relative said as friends and relatives lit candles on the girl’s tomb in a public cemetery in Guihulngan early this month to remember her death.
Other relatives expressed concern about their children’s safety amid the government campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs.
Two policemen in Guihulngan were blamed for the death of Althea, a kindergarten pupil, who went with her father, Pim Alrick Barbon, 31, to buy popcorn at Freedom Park on Aug. 30.
Police reports said Alrick took her to Larena Street in Barangay Poblacion, where he supposedly engaged undercover policemen in a shootout.
Police claimed Alrick used his daughter as a human shield.
But an investigation by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) showed otherwise.
Jess Cañete, CHR chief in Negros Oriental, said Alrick was on a motorcycle with Althea when two policemen aboard another motorcycle shot him.
Alrick, who was wounded, managed to drive his motorcycle about 75 meters away when another shot rang out. The bullet hit him in the back and pierced through his body, hitting Althea.
Alrick was killed instantly while Althea died in a hospital in Dumaguete City two days later.
The Barbon family contested the police’s story, saying Alrick would not fight back knowing it would endanger his daughter’s life.
Althea’s mother, Rowena Lorica, filed a complaint against the police in the CHR.
But a year later, no case was filed due to lack of witnesses.
“No one is willing to [stand as] witness,” Cañete said.
Another relative, who asked not be named for fear of his life, said witnesses were too scared to testify.
“There were talks circulating after the incident that those who would stand as witnesses would be killed,” the relative said. “We are poor so we have nothing to [spend to pursue] the case.”