Drug war sends OFW rushing home for son who ‘couldn’t run’

ANGUISHED HOMECOMING Arriving from Kuwait, Luzviminda Siapo breaks down in her brother’s arms at the airport, and from there she goes straight to the barangay hall to confront village officials, before finally seeing her son Raymart in a coffin at their Navotas City home.—PHOTOS BY RAFFY LERMA

ANGUISHED HOMECOMING Arriving from Kuwait, Luzviminda Siapo breaks down in her brother’s arms at the airport (below), and from there she goes straight to the barangay hall to confront village officials (below), before finally seeing her son Raymart in a coffin at their Navotas City home.—PHOTOS BY RAFFY LERMA

Luzviminda Siapo dreamt of giving her children a better life when she left for Kuwait two years ago. But last week, news from home, the kind nightmares are made of, sent the domestic helper rushing back.

On March 29, a group of men in ski masks abducted and killed her 19-year-old son Raymart a day after a neighbor tagged him as a marijuana peddler in Barangay NBBS, Navotas City.

“All it took was a false accusation for these people to murder my son,” Siapo, a single parent, said in an interview earlier this week. “They did not bother to investigate, they did not bother to verify. They just killed him.”

The night before the murder, Raymart and a neighbor had a heated argument that ended with the latter going to the barangay hall to accuse Raymart of many things, like selling marijuana. The neighbor, identified only as Pejie, said his piece before desk officer Christopher Cariquitan, who had everything recorded in the logbook.

The following night, armed men on motorbikes came looking for the teenager. An uncle who served as Raymart’s guardian said up to 14 men arrived and five of them entered their target’s house. They couldn’t find Raymart but later located him at a friend’s house nearby.

Last cries for help

Forced to ride with the group, Raymart was last heard crying for help from anyone he saw on the street. They went around the barangay until they reached an area known as Bangkulasi.

The gunmen reportedly asked Raymart to get off the motorcycle and run. He wouldn’t. And he couldn’t even if he wanted to—for Raymart was born with bilateral club foot (both feet were deformed).

“When my son refused, they asked him to sit down instead. Then, they shot him. Just like that,” Siapo said.

A Navotas police report said Raymart was shot twice in the head. His mother added a painful detail: The killers broke her son’s arms, too.

“I’m working hard abroad just so I could raise my kids well. But this is what I’d come home to? My dead child!” said Siapo, who arrived from Kuwait on April 2.

She said she learned about her son’s fate through a message sent by a niece on Facebook: “Tita, Raymart’s gone. Bonnet-wearing men killed him.”

Her world shattered in an instant, Siapo asked her employer to allow her to leave immediately. The answer was no.

She begged her boss for days and had to show online news of Raymart’s death as proof of the tragedy back home because her employer, cold and unmoved, kept saying that “you’re just making that up.”

She was finally granted permission after going down on her knees to kiss her employer’s feet.

Siapo arrived in Manila practically empty-handed; the employer asked her to leave her belongings behind as a sort of guarantee of her return to Kuwait. When met by her elder brother Bong at the airport, all she had was a handbag and two boxes of toys for her other child, a 10-year-old girl.

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“Kuya” was all she could say before breaking into tears and collapsing in his arms.

Siapo headed straight to the barangay hall, where she confronted village officials—including Cariquitan, the desk officer—for allowing the neighbor to make false accusations against Raymart, for not bothering to check if they were true.

‘Sir, tell me what to do’

“This is the reason why my son was murdered, sir, tell me what to do. Tell me! Because I had to kneel down and kiss my employer’s feet three times before I could come home. Give me an answer, please,” she said.

Cariquitan explained to Siapo that he was able to show Raymart “the complaint” against him and that he asked the teenager to sign it. He maintained that he only did his job and had nothing against her son; he actually opted not to confront Raymart about the allegations for he didn’t want to embarrass him that day.

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Cariquitan suggested that Siapo lodge a formal complaint in the police station, assuring her of the barangay’s assistance in pressing charges.

From the barangay hall, Siapo proceeded to her son’s wake. Slowly, she walked toward the white coffin, hugged it, and broke down once more: “Son, Mama’s home!”

According to Bong, Pejie—Raymart’s accuser—had disappeared from the neighborhood since the killing.

Representatives of the Commission on Human Rights met with Siapo on Friday.

Raymart will be buried at Lourdes cemetery in Malabon City at 2 p.m. today.

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