‘I’m blaming myself for their death’
It has been 40 days today since still unidentified men killed her parents, Albert and Lilia, by shooting them in the head in front of her and her other siblings. But Linda is not angry at the killers.
“I’m mad at myself,” the 11-year-old girl told the Inquirer on Sunday morning. She added: “I was not able to prevent their death. I’m blaming myself for their death.” (All the names in this story have been changed to protect the children).
“I should have embraced my mother. Maybe they would have spared her if I did,” she said.
Linda recalled that she couldn’t sleep well hours before her parents were gunned down. Both confessed drug pushers, Albert and Lilia had earlier surrendered to authorities under the government’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
Linda said she had a vision that her parents would get shot but kept it to herself. After all, her older sister had just died two weeks ago from rabies. Why burden her parents with a morbid thought? she told herself.
“A close friend of my father was shot days before. Like his friend, my father sold ‘shabu’ (methamphetamine hydrochloride). So, I knew my parents were next,” Linda said. “Had I told them, maybe they would still be alive today.”
She paused, looked at the floor and combed her hair to hide her face. She was silent for about five minutes.
Linda recalled that on the night of Aug. 25, they were asleep inside their house in Camarin, Caloocan. Then three armed men wearing bonnets to hide their faces kicked the door open, hitting her mother in the head as she was lying closest to the door.
Linda said she swore at the armed men, asking them why they wanted to kill her parents. Her father was fast asleep while her mother was screaming and begging the gunmen to spare them and her four children.
Lilia and Linda’s screams woke up Albert. The moment he sat up, a bullet went through his head, spilling his blood and brains on his youngest son who was asleep on his chest. The boy who woke up with blood all over his body turned four years old last week.
“Lilia died holding a piece of paper in her hand. She was holding that paper as proof that they had already surrendered to the police,” Linda’s grandmother, Fely, said in a separate interview.
Linda, whose nickname is Lin-lin, said her father called out to her before he died. “He said Lin. That’s all. He was not able to finish it,” she added.
Her mother was shot next.
“I wish they had spared my mother so someone would take care of us. But they killed her too. They even threatened to kill me if I didn’t shut up,” she said.
Linda told the Inquirer that she was screaming as she embraced her father after the gunmen left. “Hold on, I told him, but he still died,” she said. Then, she moved to her mother’s side and embraced her. “But she died, too,” she added.
“I knew I had to get my siblings out of the house immediately,” Linda said.
Days before the killings, the family had made plans to move back to the province, start a new life and leave their Caloocan house which they considered “bad luck.”
Fely admitted that the couple both sold shabu. Years before they were killed, she recalled telling them both to quit.
“I had warned them again and again. One time, I even asked Lilia: ’Why are you selling drugs? Aren’t you afraid for your life?’” she said. “But Lilia replied: ‘You seem to be more afraid,’” Fely recalled.
Linda said her mother was angry after she found out that Albert was using shabu. “But he was pushed up against the wall by some friends so he ended up selling shabu, too,” the girl said.
Linda and her younger siblings aged 8, 5 and 4 have been under Fely’s care since the killings. According to Fely, she wants to give the kids a new life. Having their parents killed was hard enough but now, they have to put up with the teasing as well. “I have a cousin who even told me: ‘Better to have both of their parents dead,’” Fely said.
For Linda, the pain gets worse whenever she hears comments like that. She added that she has refused to look at her parents’ picture since they died “because the memories kept coming back.”
Her sleeping pattern has also been affected. “It feels like my mother’s visiting us,” she said, adding that it’s difficult for her to fall asleep as she would often dream of her parents.
“In my dreams, we are happy. They are still alive,” she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.