Woman who lost husband, daughter cries for justice

- Rhodina Villanueva () - December 7, 2008 - 12:00am

Forty-two-year-old Lilian de Vera is a very religious person who makes it a point to attend Mass at the Quiapo church on the first Friday of every month.

It didn’t occur to her that her strong faith would be put to test when after hearing Mass, she learned of the deaths of her husband and seven-year-old daughter in a firefight between police operatives and suspected members of a notorious robbery gang in Parañaque City Friday night.

Alfonso de Vera, 51, a marine engineer, and his daughter Lia Allana were in their Isuzu Crossswind on their way to fetch Lilian when tragedy struck on Sampaguita street in United Parañaque Subdivision.

Alfonso sustained several gunshot wounds in the face while Lia sustained two gunshot wounds in the head.

“I want justice for my husband and my only child. I can’t understand why this has to happen to us. I was expecting them. All along, I thought they were safe knowing my husband drove carefully, and that he was not the kind of person who would get into trouble,” Lilian said in between sobs.

Alfonso, who worked abroad, decided to visit his family much earlier than his original plan.

“Our daughter Lia requested that he (Alfonso) celebrate with us her seventh birthday that was held last November, and my husband granted her request,” Lilian recalled.

“It was just unfortunate that things would end this way. I am not prepared for this,” she said.

Lilian said she can’t imagine celebrating Christmas without her loved ones.

“I hope there will be no whitewash of the case. I hope those who were responsible for the deaths of my husband and my daughter will be punished,” she said.

“I just wonder why police authorities have not practiced extreme caution on such scenarios they know are very, very dangerous for civilians and nearby residents,” Lilian, chief accountant of a pre-need company, lamented, adding that this was not the first time that similar incidents happened.

“I would dearly miss them. Alfonso was an ideal husband while Lia was a very smart child. She was an honor student in school and dreamt of big things for her and her family,” Lilian said.

“My husband was an OFW (overseas Filipino worker). They are saying OFWs should be treated as heroes but why did they kill my husband? He was a very good man and he did not deserve what happened to him,” she added.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) promised to extend moral and legal assistance to Lilian.

“We are now coordinating with the police. We also hope that there will be no whitewash of the case,” VACC chairman Dante Jimenez said.

Jimenez’s group has also requested the National Bureau of Investigation to step into the case.

“The incident reminds me of the Kuratong Baleleng case. Let’s get to the bottom of this and probe why innocent civilians became victims,” Jimenez said.

The VACC said they want those who took part in the actual operations to be investigated and for them to surrender their firearms.

Jimenez and some VACC members inspected the crime scene and observed that on a regular day, it was teeming with activity.

“They should have exercised extreme caution. They should have reviewed the procedures when staging operations of that nature,” he said.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Leopoldo Bataoil also promised to help Lilian and the families of the other victims find justice.

Bataoil also appealed for understanding, saying the casualties included policemen.

“Meron ding mga pulis na nasugatan at naging mahirap din para sa amin iyon (There were also wounded policemen, and it’s also hard for us),” he added.

Friends of Lilian who rushed to comfort her cited witnesses’ accounts that policemen had fired at the De Vera vehicle, apparently after mistaking it for one of the gunmen’s getaway vehicles.

Police, including the elite Special Action Force, were deployed to the United Parañaque Subdivision area reportedly to foil a plan by the Waray-Waray gang to rob the Southern Transport Inc. office on Sampaguita street.

Bataoil said the suspects opened fire indiscriminately upon sensing that they were being followed by police. The firefight left 16 people dead.

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