Time flies swiftly. Yet for him, it crawls very slowly. He’s still in that doomed place, patiently waiting for that shower of justice to bless him and his mates who happen to be victims of lies and deception.
It has been a month, but I know that for him it is absolutely far more than that.
He’s been restricted inside the four walls of that cellar, locked up behind the cold iron bars that separate freedom and confinement. He is in there because of a fabricated accusation.
Yes, my brother is in prison. But he is a victim, like many other innocent people who have been jailed.
A loving father, a caring brother, a good son and a friend to many — that’s what he is. He had just obtained regular status as a merchandiser of a famous soda brand in two big grocery stores near us. He was enjoying this job, since now he could help in the expenses and feed his own family — a wife and two children.
Everything was getting better, until that shocking Sunday morning.
After bringing our mother to church, he had his breakfast and fed his daughter. After getting ready, he left for work. He kissed his children goodbye and hugged them tightly, a normal thing for him.
Little did we know what was to happen next. We had no idea of the nightmare that was about to unfold.
Our mother was waiting for him, since he always ate lunch at home. It was unusual that he did not text or call, until my mother received an unexpected message mentioning that my brother was in jail.
She asked why and was told that he was swept up in a drug buy-bust operation. The police supposedly caught him selling marijuana.
My mother almost fainted. Our world stopped. We just couldn’t believe it. We knew that my brother did not, could not, and would never do such a thing.
We immediately rushed to the police precinct. We asked about him, but the cops couldn’t give us a straight answer. They just told us he was undergoing a drug test; we left after we were advised to return by 5 p.m.
Upon seeing him, my mother broke into tears. It was so heartbreaking to see those iron bars separating and hindering my brother and my mother from hugging each other. He told us his side of the story.
On his way to work, two men stopped him. They pointed a gun at him, so he moved his motorcycle to the shoulder lane. No one else was there. Other motorists just passed by. It was the part of the highway that had no residential areas nearby, and apparently no CCTVs, just them.
The men confirmed his name and handcuffed him. They tried to put something in his right front pocket but, as a merchandiser, my brother wasn’t allowed to wear front pockets in his pants. They failed, so they tried his back pocket.
My brother resisted, writhed and squirmed. They punched him in the stomach, he lost his balance and felt weak. The men called for respondents, which included uniformed policemen and barangay officials. He was brought to jail right after the documentation was conducted by the police.
As we expected, the result of the drug test was negative.
Still, my brother remains in jail. We visit him as often as possible. Our mother cries every night. His daughter has stopped going to school because she fears getting bullied. His son stays with his wife’s family. The children have developed a trauma of the police and the wailing sound of police sirens.
What is worse is knowing that many drug-related crimes, specifically possession and selling, have the same story as my brother’s.
The infamous “tanim-bala” has now become “tanim-droga.” Some policemen are pressured by superiors to produce so-called results, such that they apprehend anyone they deem suspicious in their barangays to meet their quota.
The hapless individuals are then framed up. They get jailed and threatened. They are advised to plead guilty so they could post bail. Policemen overuse the plea bargaining agreement, ruining the lives of those who are innocent and who are afraid to fight for justice.
My brother is not the sole victim of this. Many other people have ended up convicted because of such lies and criminal deception.
Some policemen are willing to fabricate stories to make innocent people suffer, so they could obey the command of their superiors and get a promotion or commendation.
I plead to those who have the power to act upon this. Let us pursue justice. May it be served on those who rightfully deserve it.
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Alfred Mark Castillo, 23, is a teacher in Baguio City.
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