5-yr-old girl latest fatality in drug war

YOUNG VICTIM A relative grieves beside the coffin of Danica May (inset), 5, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet intended for her grandfather on Tuesday. WILLIE LOMIBAO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

DAGUPAN CITY―Maximo Garcia, 53, surrendered to the police on Saturday after he was told that he was on a drug watch list.

Three days later, a man approached his house at Barangay Mayombo at 12:30 p.m. and opened fire on Garcia as he and his family were having lunch.

Garcia fled to the back of the house but was shot and wounded by the gunman. His 5-year-old granddaughter, Danica May, was hit in the head and later died in hospital, the youngest fatality and latest collateral damage in President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.

Garcia, who is recuperating from a bullet wound in the stomach in a hospital guarded by policemen, was a tricycle driver until he suffered a stroke three years ago.

He had been helping his wife Gemma operate a small eatery in front of their house provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the flood-prone barangay.

The wife said earnings went to food, Garcia’s medicines and caring for Danica, whose 29-year-old mother has separated from her husband.

But life had been good for Danica, Gemma said.

Danica had always been excited about attending kindergarten at East Central Elementary School here, the woman said. The child would take a bath early, eat her lunch and head for school.

“This is so painful to us,” she said. “I would miss the nights when Danica would massage us until we fell asleep. I would miss her laughter when she teased her mother.”

Gemma said she was surprised to learn that her husband was on the police drug watch list. He was later persuaded by the barangay captain to surrender to clear his name and also for his own safety.

She said she could not understand why anyone would attack her husband, who she said had never been involved in illegal drugs.

“We are afraid to stay here. But the problem is where will we go? The killers may come back for my husband,” she said.

Supt. Neil Miro, Dagupan police chief, theorized that drug dealers were behind the attack.

As of Tuesday, 26 suspected drug dealers had been killed in the city, four of them in a clash with police, Miro said.

Bulacan beheading

In Bulacan province on Monday night, a 14-year-old boy was beheaded allegedly by his drug-crazed uncle in the City of San Jose del Monte.

The boy’s body bore multiple stab wounds when it was found by his family members on a dump in Barangay Minuyan Proper at 10 p.m., hours after witnesses saw him fleeing from his uncle, who was wielding a knife, said Supt. Wilson Magpali, San Jose del Monte police chief.

On Tuesday, the police arrested the attacker, who led them to a place near a river where the boy’s head was buried. The suspect was incoherent when policemen detained him.

Also on Tuesday at Barangay San Jose in Quezon City, three drug suspects were killed in an encounter with police during a “buy-bust operation” at 2:35 a.m.

Senior Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, city police chief, identified one of the fatalities as Rodolfo Hallare, 48. The two other slain suspects remain unidentified but policemen estimated them to be between 20 and 30 years old.

Operatives said one of their colleagues posed as a buyer of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and bought from Hallare and his group. Hallare was about to receive payment when his partners shouted they were around, triggering a gunfight.

Recovered from the scene were two .45-cal. pistols, one

.38-cal. revolver, three plastic sachets of shabu and P1,490 cash.

As of Wednesday, 56 drug suspects have been killed in police operations in Quezon City since July 1.

Eleazar, however, said that more than 700 drug suspects did not resist arrest. With reports from Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Maricar Brizuela in Quezon City