Justice: A Father’s Day promise | Inquirer Opinion
YoungBlood

Justice: A Father’s Day promise

/ 04:03 AM June 29, 2021

On June 24, 2009, Laguna Provincial Board Member Danilo R. Yang and his two colleagues were shot and killed while attending a local fiesta in San Pablo City, Laguna. xxx

To the community and his peers, he was “D.Y.”: a democratic socialist, former youth activist, community organizer, and champion against corruption and illegal drugs. He was a first-term city councilor and president of the councilor’s league, which gave him a seat in both the city and provincial boards.

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“Sayang,” people would always say afterwards. They shared stories about the work they did together with D.Y. How they traveled by foot to mobilize in far-flung communities, how they made sure sectoral groups were represented, how they called out dubious practices in local government, and so on. Though 12 long years have passed, D.Y. remains an inspiration for many in public service.

To the authorities and media, he was just another victim of the hundreds of political killings that happened during the Arroyo administration. In nine years, scores of government officials, lawyers, activists, civic leaders, journalists, and even church leaders were assassinated by both state-sponsored and left-wing groups.

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But to me and my family, D.Y. was “Daddy.” He was a husband to his wife, a father to four young kids. He was the household comic relief, an exemplar of “dad jokes” and embarrassing moments. He was often loud; he would flood the house with a barrage of doorbell noises whenever he got home.

His arrival always followed a routine: He would shout “Son!” (yes, in English) so that I (the bunso who was then studying in an English-speaking elementary school) would rush out to welcome him with a hug and a mano.

He was the reason for our love of movies. He used to bring home new DVDs to watch on Friday nights and weekends. Despite his insistence to watch these movies with us, he often fell asleep halfway through. Until now, our family watches movies together (on Netflix this time).

There is still pain in seeing the world prepare for Father’s Day every third Sunday of June. Images from 12 years ago only become more vivid. I can remember the bullet-ridden Innova and the pity in the eyes of his visitors. Just as a typhoon hit the country then, that week of rain only matched our grief.

I dreamed of a day when my family could finally say that justice has been served, allowing us to close a heavy chapter in our lives. But these days only remind our family that justice may never come.

P-Noy pledged the end of political violence and human rights violations, while President Duterte promised the end of criminality within three to six months of his term. I hoped and prayed that their speeches would lead to actual progress. Perhaps naively, I found hope in their inaugural addresses and their initial pronouncements. I thought justice would finally come. But contrary to their promises, the killings and disappearances never stopped. They only continued and intensified.

Today, political violence continues to persist. Each news report of an ambush, assassination, or shootout brings me back to those depressing days many years ago. News of policemen planting evidence and using the “nanlaban” excuse for murder, while key government officials encourage such punitive actions, testifies to a deeply embedded culture of impunity in our country’s governance.

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Seeing this reality, I realize that ours is an experience shared by many other Filipino families. There are still fathers in search of their missing daughters, and mothers who, at one point, cradled the bullet-ridden bodies of their sons. There are many afraid to speak out for fear that one day, they might go out and also get shot in broad daylight. Afraid of retaliation, government officials are pushed to helplessness and are left to turn a blind eye on the corruption that’s right in front of them. Even saying “ingat” to one another now carries a heavier meaning.

There is much to be done to end political violence in the Philippines. It includes electing the right leaders in the coming elections, strengthening our justice system, and using our power as citizens to demand accountability. Until then, Father’s Day will continue to be a reminder that justice is still a promise left unfulfilled—for me, my family, and our fellow Filipinos.

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Dexter Yang, 23, is the founder of GoodGovPH, a youth-led movement for good governance in the Philippines. He received his public administration degree from the University of the Philippines.

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TAGS: Danilo R. Yang, death of a father, Dexter Yang, Father's Day, justice, Young Blood
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