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Zamboanga traffic enforcers linked to execution of street boy

December 3, 2008 2:22pm
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A Filipino boy, whose twin brother was found murdered, has accused traffic enforcers in this southern city Zamboanga City for the grisly killing.

The victim, Benjamin Mariga, was stabbed 17 times and his body had been recovered on a mountain village called Abong-Abong on Oct. 31. He was 14 years old.

The boy, his brother Paul Mariga, and four other street children were arrested late last month by five traffic enforcers after accusing them of being thieves, the victim's mother, Flor Mariga, said.

"My son was not a thief. Why did they kill my son? He was a good boy," the victim's mother told reporters. She appealed to authorities to give justice to the cold-blooded murder of her boy.
"Please help us find the killer of my son. We want justice. I want to see the face of the man who did this to my son," she said.

Paul Mariga said the officers herded them into a mini-van and brought to a place where they had been ordered to clean. Except for him and his brother, the rest of the children either escaped or were freed by the officers. He said they were brought to Abong-Abong village onboard a van, but Paul Mariga claimed that he jumped out from the vehicle and escaped after the officers tied the hands of his brother.

Paul Mariga said his brother screamed for help and told him to run and to tell their mother about what happened. "It was the last time I saw my brother alive. And it pains me so much after I saw his body. He was stabbed 17 times," Paul Mariga said.

The traffic enforcers are under the Zamboanga City government and police are investigating the murder. "There is an investigation going. We need to establish the allegations of the boy and we will not tolerate this crime. If this is proven, we will file a case against those involved in the killing of the boy," said Elmer Apolinario, the deputy city administrator.

City Hall employs about 40 traffic enforcers who work on different shifts. Apolinario said they do not want the killing to affect the good image of Zamboanga City as far as child welfare is concerned.

Zamboanga was recently adjudged as the region's most child-friendly city for its outstanding implementation of programs aimed to protect children's rights and welfare. The Department of Social Welfare and Development also cited the city's efforts in ensuring child-friendly governance which have been vital in preserving and promoting children's rights to survival, development, protection and participation.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it is also investigating the murder. "This is summary execution," said lawyer Manuel Mamauag, the CHR regional chief for Western Mindanao.

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns, an advocacy group for children's rights and welfare, has condemned the killing and said it will launch a separate investigation. "We condemn this killing. We will investigate the Mariga case," said Alphonse Rivera, the group's spokesman.

The alliance has documented 66 cases of children killed in the Philippines, including 50 cases of torture, 55 cases of children who had been illegally arrested and detained, and 49 more who were victims of frustrated killings, since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed presidency in 2001.

Summary execution in Zamboanga City is not uncommon and hundreds of unclaimed cadavers, mostly victims of gun attacks, had been buried in common graveyards in recent years. - GMANews.TV
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