THE WAR'S LOSSES | Watch: A drug suspect's demise, a cop's death, and their widows' despair
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MANILA, Philippines – They were husbands and fathers on the opposite sides of the war on drugs.
Rogie Sebastian, a 30-year-old tricycle driver from a depressed area in Manila, was suspected of being a drug user-pusher. Mark Gil Garcia, a 37-year-old senior police officer, led his team in going after suspected drug criminals in Rizal province.
Exactly one month apart, Rogie and Mark were both killed in the intensified war praised by many as an effective means to promote peace and order in the country, but chided by a growing number of critics for allegedly becoming a war against the poor.
Last September 19, Rogie, in an alleged shoot-out with policemen in Binondo district, died of four gunshot wounds in his head, chest, waist, and foot.
But Rogie’s wife, Ruth Jane Sombrio, denies that a shoot-out occurred. Ruth Jane says three men in plainclothes, one wearing a mask, barged into their shanty while Rogie was taking his afternoon nap with her and their two-year-old son and one-year-old daughter.
She says Rogie’s killers ignored his plea to spare his life for the sake of his family. The masked assailant pumped his gun and shot Rogie in the foot. The men then pushed Ruth Jane and her children out of their shack. Three more shots were heard from outside as Ruth Jane’s strength ebbed away until she blacked out.
On August 19, during a buy-bust operation in Taytay town, a suspected drug pusher hit Mark in his upper left thigh with an improvised shotgun.
Despite his injury, Mark was still able to fire back at his killer, fatally hitting him in his forehead. But Mark afterwards bled to death fast as his wound damaged his femoral artery, one of the biggest arteries in the body.
Mark’s wife, Judy Garcia, who gave birth to their third child last June, says she did not only lose her husband but also her best friend and will find it hard to start a new life without Mark.
Judy wants her three children to remember their father as a hero, defending until the end the rights of Filipinos to a peaceful and safe environment.
But Ruth Jane, who will soon give birth to her third child with Rogie, says what her children would probably remember was how their father was violently killed in a war that was supposed to achieve peace.
These are the stories of Rogie and Mark’s widows:
- By Bernard Testa and AR Sabangan, InterAksyon.com