‘Ano bang kasalanan nila?’ Parents of ‘sabungeros’ shed tears over their children’s disappearances
MANILA, Philippines — The parents of some of the 31 missing men involved in cockfighting turned emotional during a Senate inquiry on Thursday, decrying authorities’ failure to solve the disappearances and locate their missing loved ones.
At the hearing of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, Butch Inonog, father of John Claude Inonog, said he last spoke to his son at around 7:45 p.m. last Jan. 13.
John disappeared with five others. They were last seen on Jan. 13 at the Manila Arena.
Butch said his son’s voice sounded alarmed during their phone call.
He said John told him a companion was being boarded on a van.
“Pati ako sinasakay ni ganito, ganyan [I’am being forced to ride by these people],” Butch told the Senate panel, quoting his son.
When Butch asked John what the problem was, his son said he did not know.
“Bigla pong may umagaw ng telepono [Someone took my son’s phone],” the distraught father said.
Butch also clarified that his son is not a cockfight player but was merely hired to arrange vehicles to be used by players.
“Hindi po yan nagsasabong [He is not a cockfight player],” he added.
At this point, Butch’s voice choked as he tried to hold back tears.
“Anong kasalanan nila? [What did they do?] ” he asked. “Nakakaawa po yung mga bata [I feel bad for these kids].”
Merlyn Gomez, the mother of Rowel Gomez, said his son told her he would go to the cockpit arena.
“Nagpaalam po sa akin na ‘Ma, magsasabong ako para may pandagdag sa bayaran sa ospital.’ Dahil po yung pangalawa kong anak ay nasugod po sa ospital,” Merlyn said.
(He told me ‘Ma, I will engage in cockfighting so we can pay for the hospital.’ Because my other child is admitted to a hospital.)
She said they could not afford to pay their hospital bill.
“Ang sabi ko sa anak ko ‘wag ka na lang pumunta,’ asikasuhin mo na lang baka madala sa promissory,” she added. However, her son, who works as a gaffer, pushed through with his trip.
(I told my son not to go and said that we can just write a promissory letter.)
Merlyn then broke down into tears as she called on the Senate committee’s chairman, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, to tighten their investigation into the disappearances of their sons.
“Higpitan po ninyo ang pagiimbestiga para makamit na namin po yung katarungan (Please investigate this deeply so we can have justice),” she said.
“Kasi mula nung nangyari ito sa amin, hindi po naging normal ang buhay namin. Nandun po yung kaba, yung pagkatakot, yung pagalala sa mga mahal namin sa buhay,” she added.
(Because since this happened, our lives have not been normal. We are nervous, we feel scared and we are concerned for our loved ones.)
Meanwhile, Isabelita Baccay also turned emotional when she talked about her sons, Marlon and James.
“Ano po bang kasalanan? Anong nangyari? Sino kumuha? Saan dinala? Anong ginawa nila hanggang ngayon ‘di namin alam [What did they do? What happened? Where are they? What is happening to them right now, we don’t know],” she said.
She also urged cockfighting operators to cooperate with the investigation.
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