Disclaimer: The writer of the letter below shared a very sensitive story about the Philippine War on Drugs. We hope that you'll respect this piece. Thank you!
My name is Josiah
And this is the story of my death.
I’m twenty-eight years old, the eldest of three boys. My mom left the family when I was still a child, so our father raised us with all the best he knows. He wasn’t the best father, but he raised us with all the best he knows he has.
Sometime ago, I fell into drugs. Along the road plagued with poverty, broken family relationships, hurt, the want for escape, and bad company, illegal substance were waiting for me at the end of it. Life slowly spiraled below. Until I faced my mother again, now from behind bars. To see the son, broken by the hand of prison, it made her break me out of prison through bail. I got out, and she tried to help me back on my feet.
I cleaned up. Got various job, just to get ourselves out of the situational pitfall. I wanted to change, and I knew I could will it to be. I never wanted to go back, but I had to attend court hearings. Failing to attend for consecutive sessions earned me a warrant of arrest.
Until the early break of July 6th, when all was quiet and calm, the sound of haste knocking on the door. Two men were frantically banging on the door, calling out my name, if I was inside the house. A dozen police were also seen surrounding the area. They were subtly imposing their way inside. I finally got up, despite the severe headache I had the night before. They asked to confirm my name, I answered, and they went in. The man grabbed my arm and started to drag me. The other gathered everyone in the house and pointed gun at them: my partner, her cousin, and their small kids
“Let’s just go inside to your room. We’ll just check for something there.”
I begged for my life. With desperate tears, and a trembling voice, I pleaded that I wasn’t using anymore. I already changed. With all the truth in my voice, those men were already deaf to it.
First shot. I screamed.
Second shot. In pain, I groaned.
Third. I breathed my last.
After that, the two men quickly disappeared. The dozen police outside came marching in. Picked up the body, and declared that the suspect I resisted arrest and fought back. Said that I was armed and dangerous to explain why I had to be gunned down.
That is the tragic story of my cousin’s death. And this is just one of a thousand stories that go into the dark related to drugs in the Philippines. Thousands of souls are being gunned down each day. Their stories are being perverted by police reports, deemed to have fought the law of arrest and gunned down mercilessly like an animal at the hands of injustice. They are not animals. They are people with backstories, and stories to tell.
Rest in peace, Josiah. We grieve the loss of you.
Words and Photograph by Ezekiel Dela Fuente
Photograph's title: The Fighter and Stories of Wars
Photograph's description: A Muay Thai fighter from Bangkok. He does his ritual prayers before facing his opponent.
This piece is the runner-up of the Anniversary Phase of Your Letters, you may check our Facebook and Instagram posts here to know our reason for choosing this as the runner-up.