A Mother’s Plea, a City’s Madness

Dec. 03, 2006

By Carlos H. Conde

Clarita AliaClarita Alia lost three of her children to the Davao Death Squad. Her youngest is fighting for his life.

The voice on the other end was trembling. Sir, I really need your help. The voice soft, slightly stuttering, but harrowingly sad was one of the most heart-rending Ive ever heard. My son has been stabbed, the woman said, weeping now. Were now at the DMC (Davao Medical Center) and we have no money for medicine, for food. Please have mercy on us.

Clarita AliaClarita Alia inside her Bankerohan hovel.

I can understand why Clarita Alia would call me with such a plea. I have done a couple of stories on her experience one for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in 2002, the other for my paper, the International Herald Tribune, just last year.

Her story is a tragic one, as you shall read. She sells vegetables at the Bankerohan market in Davao City. She is a single parent. And three of her seven children have been brutally murdered, one after the other, by the dreaded Davao Death Squad. Last week, the youngest, 15-year-old Fernando, was likewise stabbed and is now fighting for his life, yet another victim of the barbarity that rules Davao City, a city that I have come to love over the years but now increasingly loathe because of the killings.

Such a tragedy would drive an ordinary mother crazy but the 51-year-old Clarita Alia is not an ordinary mother. Despite the tragedies, she fought on, helping in the advocacy against the extrajudicial killings in Davao (thanks, but no thanks, to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who openly endorses the killings) and at the same time trying to eke out a living in a hovel beside a dump in Bankerohan.

Help me, Clarita Alia pleaded.

Clarita AliaClarita Alia with another mother of a DDS victim, railing against the summary executions in Davao City.

I wanted to tell her that the best I could do, as a journalist, is write about her story. But I couldnt. How could I when, apparently, no story in the world be it in the International Herald Tribune, Time magazine, and many other supposedly influential publications around the world could end the slaughter in Davao City? My stories certainly didnt help prevent the violence that has befallen her son. My stories certainly didnt help stop the pain our violent society has caused on this woman. My stories certainly didnt help stop the madness in my city.

But if you can help, please do. Clarita Alias son is confined at the DMC. She can be reached at this mobile number: 0920-5935387.

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