Family of slain teen Raymart Siapo finds consolation in law of karma

MANILA, Philippines – Luzviminda Siapo had no plan to visit her son's tomb on Undas, knowing fully well that there would be a crowd, among other considerations.

But on the morning of October 31, she woke up from an unusual dream that made her change her mind.

In her dream, Raymart lifted his shirt and pointed to gunshot wounds on his stomach. "Ma, ito 'yung mga tama sa akin ng pulis. Buti na lang nabuhay ako (Mom, this is where the police shot me. It's a good thing I survived)," she vividly recalled the 19-year-old telling her.

Raymart's mention of the police surprised Luzviminda. This prompted her to visit him in a private cemetery in Malabon on Tuesday, November 1.

Raymart was abducted and killed by unidentified gunmen on March 29,  a day after a neighbor filed a blotter against him at Barangay NBBS, Navotas City, for allegedly selling marijuana. (READ: Why they gave him vinegar: From Christ to Raymart Siapo)

At the time, Luzviminda was in Kuwait, where she had been toiling as a domestic helper for almost two years. She learned about her son's death after a couple of Raymart's friends sent her "sad stickers" on Facebook. A relative finally messaged her to say that her son had been abducted and killed.  

Tears and fears  

Mourning the loss of her firstborn has not been easy for Luzviminda. While her new barbeque stand has been keeping her busy, there are moments when she would break down and cry while grilling. 

Once, she thought of staging a suicide bombing in a police station to avenge his son. A bishop calmed her and said the men responsible for Raymart's killing may not be there. 

Raymart's 10-year-old sister has also grown hateful of the administration, seeing the daily toll of the drug-related killings in the news after her brother's death. Luzviminda said she once overheard the girl criticizing the President when he appeared on TV.

“Nagkaroon na kasi siya ng trauma. Kaya hindi ko na din siya masyado pinapanood ng TV (She experienced trauma. That's why I don't let her watch TV that much),” Luzviminda said.

Fear has also kept Luzviminda from joining protests and gatherings for victims of unexplained killings.  

Even her visit to Raymart’s tomb made her worry about her family’s safety.  "Baka kasi ratratin na lang kami dito bigla. May anak pa ako (I might be suddenly gunned down. I have a child.)” 

Occasional help 

Raymart’s case resurfaced after Senators Panfilo Lacson and Risa Hontiveros mentioned the teenager’s unexplained killing in the August 24 Senate hearing on the case of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos. (LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte's drug war)

Luzviminda received calls from different groups shortly after the broadcast, asking about Raymart’s case and volunteering to help. One also asked her to appear in the Senate. 

It was also during this time – a day after her son was mentioned in the Senate hearing – that Luzviminda received a threat. Former neighbors in Navotas told her that armed men in plainclothes, who looked like cops, searched for her and asking where she had moved to.

“Paano naman ako pupunta sa Senado kung paglabas ko baka barilin na lang ako (How can I go to the Senate when I might be shot after I step out of the building)?” Luzviminda said. 

Others' concern for Raymart was also inconsistent anyway, Luzviminda said. Eventually, there was less attention on his case again.

“Nagpursigi 'yung mga tao [mag-imbestiga] noong nabanggit kami sa Senado, pero noong kumalma 'yun, wala na ulit sila,” Luzviminda said. “Kaya kailangan talaga ikaw na lang mismo mag-imbestiga."

(People were eager [to investigate] when we were mentioned at the Senate, but when the issue died down, they disappeared again. So you really have to be the one to investigate yourself.)

The law of karma

Inspite of inconsistent support towards her son’s case, Luzviminda still feels grateful that it was brought up again during the Senate hearing: it was a chance for Raymart to be publicly cleared of suspicion that he was connected to illegal drugs.

The first time media published details about Raymart's killing,  Luzviminda said she heard and read comments dismissing the case as “propaganda” against the Duterte administration. Some even called it “fake news,” she lamented.

“Kasi hindi pa nangyayari sa pamilya nila,” Luzviminda said, trying to make sense of such comments. “Bulag at matigas ang puso ng mga taong 'to na nakasuporta sa administrasyon.” 

(It's because this hasn't happened to their family. The supporters of this administration are blind and stone-hearted.)

But the sudden outpouring of rage towards policemen following Kian’s death gave her hope that justice may not be too elusive, after all.

“Sobrang saya ko noon,” Luzviminda said. “Ayan na 'yung karma, sabi ko. Kahit hindi man 'yung pulis kay Kian ang pumatay kay Raymart.” 

(I was overjoyed then. This is karma, I said. Even if the police in Kian's case aren't the ones who killed Raymart.)

"Nasabi ko talaga, ‘Ito na, Raymart. Nagkakaroon na ng hustisya (I really said, 'This is it, Raymart. Justice is being served).’” – Rappler.com