Manila, Philippines – “Ma, tulong,” Jason Babierra, 32, cried out for his mother’s help as he dragged his bullet-ridden body on the concrete pavement in the Bernabe neighbourhood of Paranaque, a Manila suburb.
Those were Jason’s last words before he died, according to a witness
This was two days before the Day of the Dead last November. Jason, a street seller, was cycling outside the house where he lived with his parents and siblings. Suddenly, shots rang out. People ducked for cover.
Moments later, they heard a motorcycle speed away. The attacker disappeared into the night. Jason was dead.
I was standing around the next corner, waiting for a taxi, when I saw the commotion. As I arrived at the scene, a police officer was still setting up the yellow tape
Jason, wearing flip-flops, camouflage cargo shorts, grey shirt and a black baseball cap turned backwards, was lying on his side, his face reflecting the fluorescent light from the nearby food stall. His eyes were still open, his mouth ajar.
“Biboy! Biboy! I can’t accept this!”
The wailing of Jason’s mother, Juvilla, who was calling her first born by his nickname, pierced the stunned silence of the onlookers.
Celso, the father, looked blankly at Jason’s corpse splayed on the street.
I asked the chief investigator if it was another drug-related death. He hesitated. But a newspaper boy in the area told me Jason was “notorious” for being “in an out of prison”.
In the ongoing war against drugs in the Philippines, the line between drug suspects and other criminals has been blurred.
This Al Jazeera list, updated on December 13, includes one 16 year old and three 17-year-old boys, accused of being gang members in the central island of Leyte, who were killed by unknown gunmen.
Nowhere in the report is it stated that they were linked to drugs.