By Lian Buan, Rambo Talabong, and Jodesz Gavilan

MANILA, Philippines – The memory of the night Manny* was killed remains vivid in the mind of his mother Lita* one year later.

His lifeless body slumped on the ground with a pool of blood slowly spreading on the ground, turned the gray concrete darker in color. 

It was 10 pm, a few minutes before the vegetables he was supposed to sell were due to arrive. But Manny did not live long enough for the next day’s marketing chores as a man shot him at close range, piercing bullets into his cheek and neck, killing him instantly. 

Just like the perpetrators of several thousand other extrajudicial killings, the suspect was wearing a bonnet, rendering him unidentifiable to possible witnesses. It didn’t help that the act was committed at night and in a place where foot traffic is scarce after the sun sets. 

The absence of a lead that could point to the gunman’s identity remains one of the biggest hindrances to Lita’s pursuit of justice for her son – even if she wants to file a complaint so badly, seek redress before a court, and have judgment rendered on the perpetrator of the killing. (READ: Powering through a crisis: Defending human rights under Duterte)

Hindi ko alam kung sino ang kakasuhan ko kasi unang-una, walang nakakilala at takot rin kami kasi noong namatay siya, may nagmanman sa amin,” she said. "Pero kung mabibigyan ng pagkakataon, kahit saan ilalaban ko at kahit mamatay ako basta magkaroon ng katarungan ang anak ko,” Lita added. 

(I don’t know who I will charge in court because first of all, no one saw or recognized him. And we’re also afraid because after he was killed, we felt we were under surveillance. But if given the opportunity, I’ll file a complaint and fight anywhere, even if I die as long as I give justice to my son.) 

Until justice is served, the death of her son – which she likened to losing a limb – will continue to feel like a festering wound.