A dark-clothed specter roamed the halls of a lonely inn. In one of the rooms were two innocent souls wearing garments as black as the night sky. One of them sported a beard and had intricate tattoos decorating his skin while the other simply had armbands. The faceless entity observed from a distance but was inching closer to the room every passing second. Suddenly, deafening sirens arrived and overwhelmed the two men as they tried to seek refuge. The sound of angered cries from armored men and a flurry of bullets racing past their ears horrified the two who desperately clung on for dear life. However, it was all in vain as grim had already marched into the room and swung its deathly scythe.
In one classroom in the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), a young man sits silently on an armchair. He tries to recollect a dark memory which he wanted to escape from, but it still haunts him as his face fills with an expression of grief and sorrow. MJ had missed the warm presence of his childhood friends who had joined him in lively musical gatherings and punk circles around Davao City, but these are now things of the distant past. In a span of a few minutes, the ones MJ cherished so much left a void in him as they had long voyaged into a more peaceful paradise.
MJ related that his friends were enjoying their time with other companions on a skateboarding competition in Kidapawan. It was not long until they had to return to Davao to attend a concert by a European band. The joy and happiness did not linger for long as MJ was surprised to find out that the police had surrounded his friends and had labeled them as members of a villainous syndicate.
On a tragic September night last 2018, Chris Jose Eleazar (aka ‘Mokiam’) and Jan-Ray Patindol (aka ‘Pating’) met their bloody doom when they were both pierced by blunt-headed bullets in Barangay Sinawilan, Matanao, Davao del Sur. It was a gloomy evening at the Prince Carlo Inn as the defenseless Mokiam and Pating were swarmed by police officers greatly suspecting the two of dealing with drugs. MJ believed that both men did not even know how to handle guns, contrary to the police reports.
“Mga skaters at musicians yun sila, straight-edge at walang bisyo. Kahit naka-mohawk at tadtad pa sa tattoo, mga punks lang sila. Hindi mga addicts kung tatawagin pa ng ibang tao,” MJ expressed.
Both men also volunteered for ‘Food Not Bombs,’ a network of collectives which originated in the United States and has recently expanded to other chapters found around the world, including the Philippines. The movement made it possible for Mokiam and Pating to help feed the poor with vegan or vegetarian meals. It also enabled the two to give those struggling from poverty free clothes and music. Unfortunately, a ballet of bullets ended both men’s noble efforts to battle injustice.
In response to the unmerciful incident, friends of both Mokiam and Pating were shocked to discover that the two men had already breathed their last. Punk/Hardcore/Metal news group, Unite Asia, stated that Mokiam and Pating’s friends highly suspect that the police planted false evidence against the victims. Found on their bodies were cigarette burns and bruises which reveal an even darker secret at play than what was originally thought as mere gunfight between the victims and the officers.
The police, on the other hand, were firm that both men had tried to ‘fight back’ when they were caught red-handed with drugs, according to Brigada News Davao. Furthermore, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also considered both men as being “armed and dangerous.”
“Wala daw silang alam na nangyaring torture. Pinagpipilitan ng pulis na kasali ang dalawa sa mafia. At ngayon, ayaw daw nilang magpakita nung itry sila i-contact,” MJ shared.
Unable to fully accept their demise at first, MJ was distraught to find out that his friends’ bodies were already in a morgue. Both Mokiam and Pating did not have their own families, so MJ and his friends took over to supervise their devastating wake.
“Yung time na yun, naghingi ako ng donations sa mga tao dito sa Ateneo, dahil wala naman din akong trabaho. Nag-ikot ako para lang matulungan sila. Nagkaroon din kami ng gig dahil sa eksena na iyon. Nagcollab kami sa hardcore at punk scene para pangtulong sa paglabas ng morge,” he recalled.
With an incident like this, Oplan Tokhang continues to cause unrest for ordinary Filipinos. Tattoos, piercings, and punk culture are merely art forms that people like Mokiam and Pating enjoyed, yet some equate them to drugs and violence.
“Yan si Pating, di ko yan nakikita na mainis o magalit kahit kailan. Di yan siya bayolente kahit uminom pa yan ng alak. Sana may konteng respeto rin ang iba sa eksena ng music na di porket ganito ang itsura namin, masasamang tao na kaagad,” MJ said.
Mokiam and Pating are just one of the many victims of an unstoppable terror. This infamous War on Drugs has caused the blood of thousands of innocents to be spilled, yet a fortress of cowards refuses to break down its walls for all to see its many failings.