'Bakit ako pa?': Mom recalls dying son asking after being shot

‘Bakit ako pa?’: Mom recalls dying son asking after being shot in drug war

/ 04:05 PM June 25, 2024

BECOMING FAMILIAR Bodies of drug suspects slain in a police operation in Davao del Sur lie in a hospital morgue. —ELDIE AGUIRRE

BECOMING FAMILIAR Bodies of drug suspects slain in a police operation in Davao del Sur lie in a hospital morgue. (File photo from ELDIE AGUIRRE)

MANILA, Philippines — A man killed by masked assailants during the height of the past administration’s drug war was protesting the incident even in his last moments.

As he was dying, the victim was asking why he was targeted when he was working honest jobs, according to the victim’s mom.


At the House of Representatives’ committee on human rights’ hearing on the alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) during the drug war, Merly Fernandez of Caloocan’s Barangay Bagong Silang testified.


She said that son, Wesley Fernandez, and her husband — a village watchman — were both killed by two men in masks who barged into their home on October 4, 2016.

Her son and her husband were shot in front of her and her grandchildren.

According to Fernandez, she understood Wesley’s last words, which were also heard by the victim’s friends who brought him to the hospital: “Why me?”

“‘Yung anak ko, habang tinatakbo nila sa ospital ‘yon, ‘yung kaibigan nya ang nagbuhat sa kanya, nagsasalita pero […] Sabi nang anak ko nu’ng tinatakbo nila sa ospital, sabing gano’n ng anak ko, ‘Bakit ako pa? Wala akong kasalanan,'” Fernandez recalled.

(My son, while they were bringing him to the hospital, his friend who carried him heard him talk […] He was asking why he was targeted when he did nothing wrong.)

“Kinukwento nila sa akin no’ng dumating, ‘Nay,’ sabing gano’n ni Bongbong, ‘si Wesley, bakit daw siya pa?’” she told lawmakers.


(That’s what they narrated to me when they came back: ‘Auntie,’ said Bongbong, ‘Wesley asked why it had to be him.’)

“Naiintindihan ko ‘yong sinasabi niya eh. Kasi ano na eh. Putol-putol na ‘yong pagsasalita niya eh. Bakit daw siya pa? Wala siyang kasalanan. Matino siyang tao. ‘Yon ang salita ng anak ko,” she added.

(I understood what they were saying, because I also heard that even if he was no longer fully coherent. Why did it have to be him? He did nothing wrong. That’s what he said.)

Sending wife to school

Fernandez was one of the several drug war victims’ family members who were allowed to speak at the third hearing of the committee.

During her time to talk, Fernandez said Wesley was a tricycle driver who was sending his wife to school.

The couple wanted to fix their lives after suffering a stillbirth.

The tragedy, Fernandez said, happened after Wesley finished making his trips, at around 8:00 p.m.

“‘Yung anak ko po, nagta-tricycle lang po. Kasi po, ‘yong asawa nya, nanganak ng panganay, namatay,” Fernandez said.

(My son is just a tricycle driver. After his wife gave birth to their first-born, the child died.)

“Ngayon, ang ginagawa ng anak ko, pinagpatuloy siya ng pag-aaral – ‘yung manugang ko,” she said.

(Now, what my son did was to send my daughter-in-law back to school.)

“Kaya ‘pag dumating ‘yang manugang ko na ‘yan, sumasama ‘yan sa biyahe. Do’n sa anak ko, sa tricycle,” she noted.

(So when my daughter-in-law would arrive, she would tag along in the trips, with my son, on the tricycle.)

“October 4, umuwi ‘yong anak ko saka ‘yong manugang ko. Tumabi ‘yung anak ko sa tabi ko kasi nanonood po ako ng TV. Yung manugang ko, sabi ng anak ko, ‘Le, prituhin mo na ‘yong hotdog kasi kakain na tayo ng hapunan,’” Fernandez said.

(October 4, my son and my daughter-in-law went home. My son sat beside me because I was watching TV. He then told my daughter-in-law, ‘Le, you fry the hotdog because we are having dinner.’)

“Maya-maya po, may pumasok na dalawang mama. Nakabitbit na po ‘yong .45 (caliber) nila, pero naka-bonnet. Hindi ko po kilala,” she told the committee.

(A bit later, two men wearing bonnets carrying .45 caliber pistols went in. I did not know them.)

According to Fernandez, the men in bonnets grabbed Wesley, who protested the apprehension.

“Ang sakit isipin, kahit ilang taon na ngayon pero masakit sa dibdib,” the mother said.

(It hurts to think about it, even it it happened years ago. It’s still painful in my heart.)

“Sabi ng anak ko sa kanya, ‘Sir, naghahanap buhay ako, Sir, nang matino. Wala akong bisyo. Kahit sigarilyo, hindi ako naninigarilyo,’ sabi ng anak kong si Wesley Fernandez,” she said.

“My son told the armed man, ‘Sir, I’m working honestly. I don’t have any vice. Even smoking, I do not smoke,’ my son Wesley Fernandez said.)

“Lumuhod pa ‘yon sir sa kanilang harapan, ‘yong anak ko. ‘Kahit iikot nyo, Sir, ako dito sa buong Bagong Silang, wala kayong malalaman sa akin na ako’y may kaso-kaso dito,’ sabi no’ng anak ko na ‘yon,” Fernandez remembered.

(He even kneeled in front of them. He told them, ‘Even if you take me around Bagong Silang, you would not hear any instance that I have cases here,’ my son said that.)

(Twenty years old pa lang ‘yon […] ‘De pinadapa na ‘yong anak ko. Halos ako nagmamaka-awa sa kanila, ‘Maawa kayo, Sir, sa anak ko. Naghahanap buhay ng matino ‘yan. Hindi ‘yan barumbadong anak,” she pleaded.

(He was just 20 years old […] They forced my son to go prone. I almost begged them. ‘Have mercy on my son. He is working a decent job. He is not a bad son.’)

Fernandez said she woke her husband up. He had slept early to recover from asthmatic attacks.

However, when her husband went to help out, he was also grabbed, and eventually shot dead.

“Sumunod naman ‘yong asawa ko. Pagsunod ng asawa ko, ‘pag tapat sa pinto, nando’n ‘yong naka-mask sa may tapat ng pinto namin. Tanong ng mister ko sa kanila, ‘Bakit, Sir?’ Fernandez said.

(My husband followed my request. When he followed me, as he was at the door, the masked men were right in front of the door. My husband asked them, ‘Why, Sir?”’)

“‘Yon ang tanong. Wala na akong ibang marinig sa asawa ko. Ang ginawa no’ng naka-mask na ‘yon, hinawakan siya dito sa leeg, tapos ginano’n (sa pader),” she remembered.

(That was the question. I did not hear anything anymore from my husband. What the masked man did was to hold him by the neck and pushed him towards the wall.)

“‘Sir,’ sabi ko, ‘huwag naman. Kalalabas lang ng ospital n’yan,'” Fernandez recounted her saying.

(“‘Sir,’ I told them, ‘please don’t do that. He just got out of the hospital.'”)

“Pagkatumba ng mister ko, basta na lang pinutukan. Wala na akong choice. Pinutukan na nila eh,” she told the legislators.

(As my husband fell down, they just fired at him. I had no choice. They already gunned him down.)

“Yung mga apo ko, natutulog d’yan, kasi sa salas lang kami natutulog ng mga apo ko,” she went on.

(My grandchildren were there, because my grandchildren and I would sleep in the living room.)

Tapos, ‘yung anak kong si Wesley, nilingon na lang nyang gano’n… at binaril,” she said.

(Then, they turned to my son Wesley, and they simply shot him.)

Against drugs

Fernandez bared her husband was speaking out against illegal drugs, lecturing young people in their area to stay away from these illegal substances.

This advocacy did not sit well with Wesley, who believed that his father should stop lecturing others because the alleged drug users were not listening to him.

“Kasi nakikita nila, ‘yung mister ko kasi, ‘pag nandy’an sa bahay, lahat ng gumagamit ng droga, pinangangaralan nya ‘yan,” Fernandez said.

(Because they saw my husband, when he was at home, he would usually lecture those who were using illegal drugs.)

“Yun pang anak ko na si Wesley ang nagsasalita sa Daddy niya, ‘Daddy, pangaral ka nang pangaral, hindi ka naman pinapakinggan […] Hindi naman tayo Daddy ang mamamatay,’” she recalled the conversation between her husband and their son.

(My son Wesley was calling out his father, ‘Daddy, you keep on lecturing them yet they are not listening to you. We are not the ones who would die anyway.’)

“‘Oo nga, hindi tayo,’ sabi ng asawa ko, ‘Kaso lang, siyempre, tutulungan natin sila. Baka maligaw ng landas.’ ‘Yun pala, sila ang mamamatay,” Fernandez lamented.

(‘Yes, it’s not us,’ my husband said. ‘But, of course, we have to help them. They might go astray.’ We did not know they would be the ones who’d end up getting killed.)

The House panel is investigating allegations of extrajudicial killings in former President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

While the former administration was praised for the campaign that addressed the country’s drug menace, it was also criticized for being too bloody, and with innocent civilians — including minors — getting executed.

READ: War on drugs: The violence, scars, doubts and families it left behind 

Previously, the committee heard testimonies from other drug war victims’ relatives, including one from Christine Pascual, mother of 17-year-old Joshua Pascual Laxamana.

Laxamana was killed by police officers in Pangasinan during the drug war.

Cops said the minor fired against the operatives.

But Pascual insists Laxamana was merely coming home from a DotA tournament in Baguio City and he was just caught in the middle of a police operation.

READ: ‘Masakit pa rin’: Drug war fatality’s mom still can’t accept son’s fate 

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Earlier, Abante approved a motion to formally invite Duterte and his first Philippine National Police chief, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, to the hearing.

TAGS: Drug war, Duterte, EJKs

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