FATHERS and mothers do the commonplace parental job of accompanying their young children to school. This is typical Filipino custom, not so much in the sleepy rural areas as it is practiced in more progressive cities and towns, where vehicular traffic is dense and schoolchildren are exposed to greater risks.
In Lucena City, however, two fathers were killed in broad daylight, both by riding-in-tandem killers, in two separate shooting incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 9 and 10).
Ironically, the two were slain while performing the fatherly duty of bringing their children to school.
First, Michael Garcia, 43, of Purok Dama de Noche, Barangay Mayao Castillo, was driving his tricycle in Purok Central when two motorcycle-riding men gave chase and shot him several times, hitting also his daughter. Both victims died while another daughter was not hit and survived the attack, though visibly shocked and troubled.
The daughter, Mara, was hit by two stray bullets on the left side of her chest and waist. She was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival by doctors. Garcia sustained bullet wounds on his right chest, left abdomen and right leg, and died on the spot. Witnesses said the gunmen fled toward the direction of Pagbilao town.
The second victim who died on Wednesday was Dennis Amat, 48, of Barangay Ibabang Iyam.
He was traveling back home along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Isabang at 7 a.m. Wednesday after bringing his kid to school when he was shot eight times by two unidentified gunmen, also on board a motorcycle.
Dennis was a "kumpare" and good friend of my kumpare, newsman Benjie Antioquia of DZRH and Manila Standard, who was surprised that this happened to Dennis, who was a good and amiable person.
Dennis Amat used to accompany Benjie in his various trips in Quezon province, especially in far-flung Bondoc Peninsula, as he was also an experienced driver.
Dennis died of three bullets that riddled his head, fired from guns of cowards who were riding in tandem on a motorcycle.
The attack was caught in a security camera of one of the homes nearby, but the footage was shot too far away from the camera that you cannot distinguish the faces of the attackers.
Witnesses said the gunmen, riding a black motorcycle, fled toward the direction of the town of Sariaya.
My kumpare Benjie Antioquia who was first to report the incident in radio station DZRH, was puzzled why there is a rash of violent incidents causing the lives of Lucena folk during the past few days.
Meanwhile, Manila Times reporter Belly M. Otordoz tried to get a statement from Lucena City Police chief, Lt. Col. Erickson Roranes, through text message and phone call, but he did not respond at once.
Mayor Mark Alcala is yet to issue a statement about the incidents, said the reporter.
From where we are perched here in Calumpang, a few kilometers away from Lucena City, we can feel the fear and concerns gripping the people there.