My childhood friend is in jail

June 4, 2022

After almost 3 years, I got to see my high school batchmates again. I went to my hometown last Sunday to attend our reunion.

I was surprised to see around 60 people, all excited to be there after getting holed up in their respective worlds.

I was looking for our childhood friend D but he wasn’t there. I arrived at 1 pm so I thought he probably had left already.

Malou and Willy said he is in jail in Binangonan. That came as a shock. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.

I felt terrible especially after I learned that he’s been languishing in jail for almost two years now. For about half an hour, even when there was partying, laughing, and dancing, I felt depressed.

Ever since that day, I am always thinking of him. In the midst of the many day-to-day concerns that I have, plus the dozens of things to do, missing my son, etc. the thought that this childhood friend of mine is in jail bothers me kasi I know he is a good person.

We grew up together. Sya, ako, and Engr. Mike Arcilla whom I fondly call Tigi. Kaming tatlo ang partners in crime. We pick our neighbors’ gumamela, we make paper boats and when it’s pouring we run in the middle of the street para to bathe in the rain. We play hide and seek, tumbang preso, piko, pick up sticks, jack stones, sungka, sometimes meron kaming mga inisan. The next day as if we didn’t fight over a tiny bottle cap, we would be together again, catching dragonflies, picking up tiny stones. One time we were playing in our house, Tigi found my mother’s Vicks Vaporub. He opened the small container, scooped some and rubbed them over his two eyes. Eh di syempre mahapdi. The more Tigi rubbed his eyes, the more they hurt. Namaga! While Tigi was suffering, D laughed and giggled. Tigi went home hating us. The next day, the three of us were together again. We were like that. We went separate ways when we were in high school kasi syempre the two gravitated toward male friends, because mga binata na. And although Tigi and I went to the same university, University of Santo Tomas, it was a huge campus and we took up different courses in different buildings. In my four years at the university, I had only seen Tigi once, walking beside the Main Building. I wasn’t sure where D went to college, maybe at the University of the East.

I spoke to D’s daughter the other morning. She narrated what transpired on that fateful day.

Almost 2 years ago, one Saturday morning at around 10 am, while she and her mother were at home, at least 10 men came looking for some stranger. Hindi daw nila kilala yung taong hinahanap ng mga police but they and the so-called intel were insisting that the person lives in their house.

According to the daughter, when she asked the police officers for official IDs and a search warrant, the officers told them they didn’t have to identify themselves nor show any search warrant. They further added that the wife and daughter would be arrested if they will not let them in and cooperate.

She said she was able to message her father who was buying patuka ng manok at the public market in the town center. She added that the men confiscated their cellphones to prevent them from calling help, destroyed the CCTV camera installed in their living room, and proceeded to ransack their home. They were told not to speak to anyone nor call a lawyer.

She said the raiding team didn’t find any illegal drugs but took their money, jewelry, and things of value, including the car battery, etc.

They arrested her father (my childhood friend D) who went home to protect his family and to check what was going on.
He was taken into custody at 1 pm. The person the policemen claimed they were looking for was there and was released by the policemen after my friend arrived. Siguro kunwari lang meron silang ibang hinahanap.

The police report had a different story according to my friend’s daughter.

My friend’s lawyer is from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO). This is a free legal service for those who don’t have private counsel. There are two lawyers in their family so I don’t know how this thing plays out.

According to the daughter, court hearings are scheduled every month but are always re-set.
13 times this has happened. Kawawa naman yung mga nakakulong ng mahabang panahon kung wala man lang hearing. How can they defend themselves? How many thousands of prisoners are actually innocent and they are not given the chance to prove it?

According to his daughter, there are more than 650 prisoners in that jail. Her father stays in a dorm of 75 people. Wooden beds are triple-deckers. Food is awful daw so families bring food for their loved ones.

His loving daughter comes daily to bring him food and supplies. She also gives him a small allowance to buy snacks from the store or carinderia inside the penitentiary. She also collects her father’s dirty clothes and replaces them with clean ones.

She said the best thing that happened is her father stopped smoking ever since he landed in jail.

One of these days I will go visit him. Wala daw electric fan in the waiting room so I will bring two fans and just leave them there for the visiting families’ and the jail guards’ comfort. Also, I will bring KFC, for my friend and for sharing with other prisoners parang pakisama.

My friend grew up in a comfortable life. I couldn’t fathom what he is going through and how he is coping.

I hope the court gives him a chance to defend himself. A speedy and fair trial is needed.


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