Three friends from the same neighborhood, three buddies who shared the love of basketball, three companions who weathered life’s highs and lows with their limited means, and the tragic fate that befell them – the gruesome deaths of these three friends, occurring one after the other.
This has become the new reality, where violence and killings no longer stir a reaction, as long as they don’t disrupt our everyday lives.
Have we grown too afraid to be labeled as enemies of the state, or have we become so indifferent that we no longer demand answers and accountability from those elected or appointed to uphold peace and justice?
It all began on August 2 when over 20 police officers from the Navotas Police descended upon Kaunlaran village in search of an alleged murder suspect, whom they seemed all too eager to eliminate.
Without even verifying the identities of two young men preparing to set out on a fishing trip, they opened fire on their boat, taking the life of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar.
During Jemboy’s wake, Daniel and Reyrey went together to bid farewell to their childhood friend.
A month later, on September 2, they visited a convenience store in Longos, Malabon, ostensibly to meet someone.
As they alighted from a tricycle, they were ambushed by motorcycle assailants lying in wait. While Daniel was wounded in the leg, the assailants pursued Reyrey, who managed to escape through alleyways.
Daniel, however, found himself on Lapu-lapu Ave. near Dagat-dagatan, where the assailants, on their motorcycle, circled back.
Defenseless and on his knees in the middle of the street, they heartlessly shot him multiple times in the chest and robbed him of his cell phone. Daniel Soria was just 20 years old at the time of his brutal demise.
Reyrey was once again labeled as a prime suspect by the police. He sank into depression, withdrew from society, became paranoid, and burdened himself with guilt over the loss of his friends.
Although family and friends attempted to reach out to him, urging him to surrender for his own safety, he had lost trust in everyone and even disregarded his parents’ counsel.
In the early hours of October 6, the lifeless body of 18-year-old John Rey “Rey-Rey” Basie, who the police had identified as the suspect Reynaldo Bolivar, was discovered on the bridge of Pama Sawata, Brgy. Kaunlaran, NBBS, Navotas City.
According to the police report, he had been shot in the back of the head. Whether he met his end there or if his body was merely dumped in the neighborhood where they had all grown up, as a message, remains unclear.
Now, Rey-Rey has become yet another statistic in the culture of violence and killings that we have regrettably become accustomed to.
Vincent Go is a veteran photojournalist covering social and environmental issues for LiCAS.news. He has been documenting the Philippines’ war on illegal drugs campaign since 2016.