WARNING: IMAGES HAVE GRAPHIC CONTENT
January 14, 2017. It was a Saturday, just a few hours away from the Sinulog festival happening in our city. I was in the apartment with my fiancé when I heard a commotion outside. I heard people shouting, making a ruckous outside and I complained, “Ang aga naman nila mag Sinulog! (It’s too early for them to celebrate Sinulog)” Frustrated that my quiet Saturday afternoon was getting disturbed. I was walking towards the door when my fiancé told me, “‘Wag ka na lumabas, pabayaan mo na yan. (Don’t go out anymore, just leave it be.)”
The curious side of me could not resist. I went out and saw a man being carried in all covered with blood. I shouted, “Babe, call 911. I think someone needs help.” I saw people putting the man down in front of my parking space. I rushed back in and my fiancé was on the phone waiting for 911 to pick up. He handed me the phone and went out to check the situation. By the time I got to it, 911 operator answered but I was not fast enough to answer back that they hung up. I called again and having explained to the operator that we need an ambulance immediately, a man has been shot.
|Victim: 22 Stab wounds|
I didn’t know that 911 was based in Manila. The response I got from the operator was “Ma’am we’ll check for ambulance in your area then we’ll call you back.” Are you kidding me? It’s Sinulog! The local government saw it fit to cut out all cell site in the area to prevent the attack from terrorist. How do they suppose to call me back on the cellphone? I wanted to rush out to try to administer first aid but apparently someone needs to stay by the phone to wait for them to call back. My fiancé came in and told me “Forget 911, we need to take him to the hospital fast. He’s not going to make it.” I told the operator we’ll take him ourselves and loaded the man in the back of my vehicle and drove like crazy to get to the hospital. Cebu Doctor's and Chong Hua was out of the question because the roads heading that direction was blocked. The nearest one would be Perpetual Succour Hospital.
We were driving with the hazards on and windows down to wave our hands out shouting for cars to move aside. The Jeepney drivers are even more gracious compared to the private vehicles when we were counter-flowing. The barkers helps us by informing their drivers to move aside for us while private vehicles adamantly stops in front of you not willing to give an inch for you to drive on.
|Emergency Room at Perpetual Succour Hospital|
When we got to the hospital, the emergency staff seems to be in a panic. I was screaming for someone to bring a stretcher because it was an emergency. Response time was too slow. We were trying to keep the man conscious while we were in the car. We didn’t want him to die, we need people to act fast. And everyone seems to be so rattled.
Finally, they got him in. One of his staff Mylene, was with us and luckily she quickly wrote down the phone number of his residence. We asked the Emergency staff if we can use their phone and it took me 3 times to try to dial the number correctly. How does one tell someone that their beloved is in the hospital dying? We have no clue on who he is and I only have a name and a phone number.
Someone answered. I don’t remember exactly what I’ve said but we left information which hospital he’s in. I didn’t know what else to say, we couldn’t leave them our mobile numbers as there’s no signal. It will be useless to try to call.
When I saw his wounds, I thought it was a gun shot. It was rounded but I couldn't see an exist wound as his shirt was covered in blood. It wasn’t a gun shot. While we waited in the ER we didn’t see any police coming to investigate. His mother finally arrived and we spoke briefly and said our goodbyes afterwards. We didn’t want to intrude. But we prayed for recovery.
|Crime Scene at Mabolo|
When we got back to the apartment, the scene of the crime was still there. We only saw the yellow tape but there were no police. We didn’t see any investigators. No one came to question us as well. We worked on cleaning the car, removing all the bloodstains and kept on praying. We searched on Facebook for any news and watched out for posts from the Chinese community in Cebu. Cebu is small, word gets out fast. We receive news from friends who knew the man or the family. We also found their contact through friends of friends. He’s alive. But the battle isn’t over yet.
|Blood Stains in the car|
That following evening, we saw a news article online from Cebu Daily News about the stabbing incident. My fiancé and I read it. Eager to hear news about the man and his condition. It turns out, the news didn’t help much. The article made me want to scream at the person who wrote it. How can they have this all wrong? What sort of journalism is this?
The article has condemned the man of a crime he has not committed. “Worker stabs boss over unpaid salary” and I was reading nasty comments from readers how it serves him right for not paying the guy, hoping that he dies.
|Cebu Daily News Article|
|Full Article as published in Anotao News|
|Inquirer post on Facebook|
I contacted Cebu Daily News through Facebook. In my anger I wrote to them how mistaken they were to condemn a man too quickly without investigation.
This is what I wrote to them:
|My Response to Cebu Daily News|
“Dear Cebu Daily News,
Your recent report in regards to the man who was stabbed by worker because of unpaid salary is incorrect. I suggest that your reporter should investigate more about the matter than falsely reporting that article that might cause damage to people involved. Especially in social media, people trash the accused party immediately just because an article written says that the Boss is guilty of not paying.
To that reporter, do not falsely accuse until it is proven. You have only heard one side of that story. And for your information, that man was not rushed to Chong Hua. We were the ones who drove him to the hospital. And if I am not mistaken, you have written the wrong name of the man who was attacked as well. What happened to responsible journalism? What happened to proper investigation and unbiased news? I do not know how you call yourself a journalist or a reporter if the article you have written have the wrong facts.
Their response irked me more.
“Hello Ms. Yap! The information came from SPO3 Jefferey Larrubis of the Mabolo Police Station. The information he gave us was based on their initial investigation. We can do a follow-up story if the victim is willing to grant us an interview. Thank you!”
Even the police did not bother to conduct a thorough investigation and reported it to the press.
Our conversation continues.
How do we justify a claim when we don’t have ALL sources? How can we publish information when there’s no credibility, concrete evidences that suggested confirmation of their headline? It upsets me that people had judged so quickly without verifying facts. Is this the future of crime reports? Is this how we write for the newspapers nowadays? There are no fact check, no reporters interviewing witnesses, not even interviewing the people in the surrounding neighborhood. The police did not even do their job properly. The suspect was caught, we don’t have to pursue the investigation.
What happened to accountability to do what is right for the people? How will they earn the public’s trust?
We asked the people in our compound, we listened to what people were talking about. Turns out the worker was a drug addict. The police caught him because he was still in the compound lost to himself and was repeatedly saying not to call the police. Apparently one of my colleague knows the suspect's family, heard of the crime from the mother and it confirmed what I’ve heard from others. The victim told us his story which confirmed what I’ve heard as well. The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. The worker asked to have his job back after being AWOL for several times. The victim talked to suspect in his office and told the suspect to come back on Monday for work. It was Saturday afternoon after all and work is almost done. The festivity is on it’s way. The victim gave him a 100 pesos so he can commute back home. Office workers saw the suspect lurking around after the meeting and followed the man to the bathroom. That’s where the crime happened. It was a warehouse. Where would a man find a weapon to stab someone in the bathroom unless it is premeditated?
The article was taken down from the site that evening. Cebu Daily News never published a retraction nor offer any apologies to the family they have harmed with their report publicly. Try searching it on their website. You won’t find a trace of it. The only concrete reminder would be the snapshot I took of the article. This is what we call “Responsible Journalism.”
As of the man we drove to ER, he was stabbed 22 times, hitting his organs, but miraculously he survived. He spent 6 weeks in the hospital, 3 of which in ICU and another 3 for recovery. He is well and reunited with his loved ones. Thank God for that. They will proceed with filing charges against the suspect.
I ask myself why I am writing this article now when it could’ve been months ago. It pretty much bothers me still when I remember the ill will people wished against this man who’s only crime was to give another person a chance. If this was a trial with a jury and one of the jurors read the article from Cebu Daily News, it would’ve given a very biased opinion. Every time I drive home I would see the warehouse and be reminded of the crimes that happened that day. Attempted murder and libel. We might find justice in convicting the suspect. At least one crime will be punished. But we will never find justice when media gives you a bad name.
We might not be able to trace it anymore. I’m quite sure a media company as big as that would be able to cover their tracks. But as what people say, “Once it’s in the internet, it will always be in the internet.”
Post Script: In the recent events of what's happening in our country, there is one thing that we are certain of. People die. Death happens whether we like it or not. Unjustly killed, or dying because of sickness and so on. Death is everywhere. Everyone dies. This is a fact where we have to accept it. It's the harsh reality. I do not wish upon death on anyone, but it happens because it is the consequence of our sins.
I felt the need to publish this in response to crime and journalism in our country. Crime is rampant and occurs ever so often. Unbiased media is a rarity. Often I wonder who I should trust when I read the news.
The most important question we all should ask about this is, we as Christians, what are we suppose to do? How are we suppose to act? How do we show Christ-likeness in this situation? Have we prayed for peace in our nation? Have we prayed for our president, our government officials, our police, our fellow countrymen? Or are we so eager to fight trying to argue who is right and who is wrong?