Do you believe only rich people can afford first or second chances in life? How about those who are less in life – the marginalized, the indigenous, the young people? Do they deserve to be secured, whether to live or to live again?
A senseless, gruesome killing of a couple from the University of the Philippines, both full of promise, brought up these questions again. They were on the verge of their accomplishment when Ernesto Bernabe II, or Cochise, 26 years old, and Ana Lourdes Castaos, or Beebom, 22, became mistaken identity subjects. Cochise was reviewing for the bar examinations after graduating from the University of the Philippines while Beebom was a graduating student at the College of Mass Communications from the same university.
On the night of April 25, 1990, Bernabe and Castaños were abducted by armed men as they were about to enter a hamburger restaurant on Timog Avenue in Quezon City. Two months later, their decomposing bodies were discovered in a gas warehouse in Pama. After hearing testimonies from eyewitnesses, a trial court found Rodolfo Manalili, Roberto Lising, Felimon Garcia, Robin Manga, and Enrico Dizon guilty of the murders with double life imprisonment.
After 19 years, Rodolfo Manalili, the mastermind of the lovers’ death and a distant relative of Beebom, was granted executive clemency by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while the other four are suffering until today behind bars.
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