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Police Station 6

Police Station 6

When the day of reckoning finally arrives for the thousands killed in the war on drugs, Police Station 6 in San Andres Bukid, Manila, will stand out for a particular level of notoriety.

Thirty-nine residents of San Andres Bukid have banded together and mustered the courage to confront the police station that has enslaved their community in fear and terrorized their neighborhood with violence. The community is a collection of shanties second only to Tondo in population density, and a mere stone’s throw away from the Makati business district.

On Oct. 19, the residents petitioned the Supreme Court for protection against the rampant killing of unarmed and surrendering residents, the illegal arrest of witnesses to the killings, and the forcible entry into houses in the dead of night by armed men in civilian clothes while policemen stand guard. The Center for International Law (Centerlaw), which I head, is assisting the residents in their case.

The petition details the stories of 35 dead victims of the government’s war on drugs in San Andres Bukid.

There’s the killing of Joseph Baculi. The police claim that Joseph died in a shootout, but his neighbors attest that he never fought back. Most horrifying to the neighbors was the macabre treatment of Joseph. His bullet-riddled body was brought out from the second-floor window of his house and dropped to the ground because the police could not bring it out through the doorway. When Joseph hit the ground, the neighbors recoiled at hearing him cry, “Aray! (Ouch!)” Joseph was still alive, but the police left him to bleed to death.

There’s the killing of Jerry Estreller. Jerry was blowing smoke from a lit piece of paper to drive away ants crawling near his sleeping sons. He and his wife were startled when the door was kicked open and men in civilian clothes streamed in. They had guns and one of them flashed a police badge. The family members held one another in a tight embrace. The gunmen wrenched Jerry’s sobbing wife and children from him, and brought them to Station 6. Jerry was executed inside his house.

For two months, out of sheer terror, the residents living near Jerry’s house padlocked their houses at night and trooped to the Dagonoy market one block away. There, they spent the night sleeping on top of tables. When it rained, they slept inside the jeepneys parked on the street. They would go back to their houses at 4 a.m. to prepare for work, and to get the children ready for school.

Jerry’s widow and their two young sons continue to live in the house — no bigger than an oversized box — where he was killed.

And then there’s the killing of Ryan Eder. Police alleged that he was killed in another shootout, but a witness saw otherwise: “Ryan and his partner Valerie were sleeping at the third floor of their house when men in civilian clothes knocked down the door. The men dragged Valerie out of the room, and then they shot and killed Ryan. Ryan was already surrendering.
He even started to strip to show he had no drugs or firearm on him. He said, ‘Sir, malinis po ako, maghuhubad ako, sir!’ (Sir, I am clean. I will take my clothes off, sir!)’ And still without mercy, the men shot him!”

Valerie and Ryan’s mother and cousin were brought to Station 6 and charged with the nonbailable offense of selling drugs. Ryan’s mother and cousin were not even in the place where he was killed; they agreed to go to Station 6 when they learned of the incident. They were not allowed to leave and were instead detained and indicted with fake charges. CCTV footage confirms their defense. It was gut-wrenching to hear their stories when I visited them at the Manila City Jail.

The residents hope that the killings of their loved ones will not become “a template for their own violent deaths,” and that “the unabated killings in their communities will not evolve into a culture of passive tolerance and defeated resignation over the seeming ordinariness and banality of the taking of human life in the war on drugs.”

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