Diomedes, not his real name, came home from Tanjay City Hall carrying a box of relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on his right arm. He sat on a worn out bench outside of his house and slowly opened the box while his three kids watched from the tiny balcony of their home.
Diomedes’s left arm was noticeably stiff even though he wore a long-sleeved shirt. When he took it off, there was a patch on the upper part of this left arm which covered a wound caused by a stray bullet - a remembrance from the ordeal he went through two weeks ago. Diomedes was among the survivors of the Pamplona shooting incident on March 4 which claimed the lives of nine people including the late Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
Diomedes said he went to Degamo’s residence in Pamplona town with his wife and his kid who had an ear disease to seek medical assistance from the late official. “Nisulod mi sa compound, gipa-logbook mi. Naabot mi didto mga alas siyete (sa buntag) dayon mga alas nuwebe kapin o mga ten na ba to siya naa nay nagpaka-paka og pabuto na armas. Nakulbaan nako. Ako lang gi-depensahan ang akong asawa ug anak (We went inside the compound and registered in the logbook. We arrived there at 7:00 a.m. and by around 9:00 a.m. or 10:0 a.m., gun shots were fired. I got nervous. I tried to defend my wife and my child),” Diomedes said when he was interviewed by PIA and PTV. He requested not to disclose his full name because he still fears for his safety.
Diomedes said he and his family were separated as they fled the garage where the shooting happened.
He crawled under a barbed fence and fell on shallow cliff where other survivors also hid. Together, they crawled towards the direction of Arminda’s Cabin (a set of guest houses inside Degamo’s compound) and temporarily stayed there until it was clear to go out.
His wife and child hid near the hanging bridge connecting to the nearby Café Alicia also owned by the Degamo’s. hHis wife and child were not harmed during the shooting incident.
For now, Diomedes and his wife and child are coping with the aftermath of the incident. He is thankful that representatives from different government agencies have reached out to him and extended various assistance such as medical, cash, and livelihood.
Earlier, he also received a separate box of relief goods from the Office of the President.
In Pamplona town, the widow of Jomar Canseco, a driver employed by the provincial government who was also killed during the incident, is still figuring out how to move on from the death of her husband. She requested not to reveal her name for security reasons when she was interviewed by PIA and PTV team.
She became emotional when she narrated how her kids were greatly devastated with the news of their father. “Iyak ng iyak yung (mga anak namin) dahil sabi nila bakit daw ang aga daw kinuha ng papa niya. Ang liit pa daw nila. Paano na daw kami? Ang hirap po pag walang masasandalan (Our children were crying. They are asking why did their father have to die? What will happen to us now? It’s hard when you lost someone whom you depend on so much),” she added.
Like Diomedes, she said a staff from the Office of the President also approached her and extended financial assistance, food packs, and burial assistance. She also met with Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. during the latter’s visit in Dumaguete City at the wake of Degamo and she said the President assured justice for loved one and education support for their two children.
“Nagpapasalamat ako dahil iyong mga tulong nila napakalaking tulong po nila sa akin at saka para sa mga anak ko. Kahit na wala na yung asawa ko malaking tulong po talaga lalo na po iyong financial assistance (I am also thankful for the various assistance extended to us. It’s a big help to me and to my children. The financial assistance is a great help to us),” she said.
However, she noted that no amount of assistance will be enough to compensate for her husband’s life. She urged the national government to tighten its security measures in the province to prevent another similar incident from happening in the future.
In Dumaguete City, Flora Maquiling, the widow of Jerome Maquiling, another driver working for the provincial government who died because of the grisly shooting, said it will be difficult for her to move on especially since her husband left her with four kids.
“Mahirap kasi mayroon ako apat na anak. Mayroon akong six years old, yung isa grade 12, dalawa sa college, third year at fourth year. Mahirap talaga. Hindi ko matanggap ang nangyari. Napakasakit po (It’s difficult because I have four kids. I have one six-years old, my other child is in grade 12 and I have two kids in college. One is in its third year while the other is in its fourth year. It’s really hard and until now I haven’t accepted what happened to my husband. It’s painful for me),” Maquiling said.
Similar to Canseco’s widow, President Marcos Jr. also promised scholarship grants for her children and livelihood for her family. The DSWD also provided burial assistance and food packs to them. “Sa lahat ng tumutulong sa amin maraming salamat po (I’d like to say thank you to those who helped us),” Maquiling said.
On March 18 and 19, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also turned over livelihood starter kits to the survivors and victims of the Pamplona shooting as part of the government’s interventions to help them start over following the death of their loved ones. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)