Monday, June 29, 2009

A Murder in Davao

When you live in a place where crimes go unsolved and unpunished, even a front-page atrocity manages to elicit only a shrug. "Poor fellow," you say, and you go on about your business.

That, in a nutshell, summed up my response to the recent murder case of Dr. Rogelio Peñera, head of the local DOH team monitoring swine flu in Davao. I wondered what could have prompted someone to kill him; after all, he was neither activist nor politician nor criminal. As I said, when crimes go on unsolved, callousness steps in.

But when you know someone who knows the victim, perspective changes somewhat. The victims no longer remains an anonymous name, but becomes a person, one you might have known. That, too, is what happened to me when I received an email from a Dumaguete friend.

Hi, Dom, he was my classmate in high school. Have you heard anything else about this? I've only just heard because I don't regularly open my PSHS email. Would appreciate any updates. Our classmates are planning to go to Davao for his funeral tomorrow.

Perhaps the way the media report the news goes a long way to desensitize us. This is how the Philippine Star covered the story:

Two unidentified gunmen shot dead last night the head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of Department of Health (DOH) Region XI, who was tasked to address and monitor A(H1N1) flu cases here.

The victim, identified as Dr. Rogelio Peñera, in his early 40s, was reportedly killed when he arrived home at around 6:30 p.m. last night in Countryville Subdivision, Cabantian Road, this city.

DOH Region XI assistant regional director Dr. Salvador Estrera said Peñera was rushed to the Davao Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

Peñera’s teenage daughter also reportedly suffered minor injury when she sustained a gunshot wound in the hand.

Davao City Police Office said the two suspects were waiting for the victim at his house and fired at him when he got out of his car. Elements of the Buhangin Police Station immediately launched a massive manhunt for the killers.

Peñera was the one giving media updates on the flu. He had also been going around the barangays to give lectures on the viral infection. “I really do not know why he was killed. He was such a good man,” Estrera said.

He described Peñera as a good and efficient worker, adding that the victim’s death would be a big loss to the DOH Region XI office.

As it is, just another story.

First-person account previously posted here removed on request of original sender. Please don't ask me for a copy as I have also deleted it from my files. An official statement from Dr. Peñera's friends is coming soon.

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