- Philippine Congress, Local Government Units, Phil. National Police, Media, the Public
See updates to this petition at the bottom of the preamble.
Tara Santelices, 23 years old graduate of the Ateneo de Manila was shot in a robbery-hold up incident inside a passenger jeep along Felix Ave. Cainta, Rizal. She was on her way home past midnight (August 6, 2008, about 12:30 AM) with a friend coming from a night out on the eve of her 23rd birthday.
Somewhere along a dark stretch of Felix Ave. near Karangalan Village, a man posing as a passenger, pulled a gun and announced a hold-up. The man grabbed Tara's bag. Instinctively, Tara held on to her bag and in the ensuing struggle, the man shot Tara and hit her on the left side of her forehead. After getting the bag of the others, the man jumped off the passenger jeep. Tara's companion, who has never been in that situation asked for help from the other passengers, and told the driver to bring them to the nearest hospital, as blood was already spurting out of Tara's head. But instead of driving speedily to the nearest medical facility, the driver drove as if it was one of his regular trips, even stopping three times to unload a passenger. Of the five or six other passengers, only one bothered to help Tara's friend carry her. The rest just went about their business as if nothing serious happened. In fact some of the passengers even opted to stop the vehicle for them to get off, wasting precious time for medical attention. The driver eventually took them to a small clinic. But even as Tara's companion was talking to a medical personnel in that small clinic, the driver drove-off leaving them to look for a taxi to bring Tara to a better equipped hospital. Tara was given the appropriate medical attention only about four hours later. The police went to the hospital to talk to the witness (Tara's friend) only a day later.
It is the height of apathy and indifference that our fellowmen show no concern about each other specially in such emergency situation as that involving Tara. It is revolting to know that transport drivers whom our lives and safety are actually under their responsibility as paying passengers, do not know what to do or even try to avoid responsibility under such situations. It is also contemptible that the police had to act so late and only after follow-ups by friends were made with higher authorities.
Tara has been lying in bed, in a coma ever since the incident, her skull shattered by a bullet. Her dream of doing humanitarian work with the United Nations has been shattered as well. Chances of her recovery is almost nil. And the family remains tortured and pained seeing their precious child in that condition every day, feeling helpless. They, however, remain strong in their belief that Tara's fate is in the hands of The Lord Almighty and continues to pray for a miracle.
But we are not entirely helpless if we help ourselves. Even as we continue to storm the heavens with our petitions for Tara's recovery, we can storm those here on earth who have the responsibility and the means to stop this kind of violence, to prevent it from ever occurring again, or from happening to us and our loved ones.
Instead of dismissing this incident as one of those that routinely happens in our streets and thinking about immigrating abroad to escape the situation, we can do something more positive and more concrete.
Let us sign the petition below and join the effort to do battle to combat our own apathy, and to exact responsibility from those who took an oath to serve us - the Public.
(UPDATE: On September 15, 2008, it was reported in the local news that the alleged suspect in the Tara Santelices shooting has been killed in an encounter with lawmen in Antipolo City, Province of Rizal, while being pursued by police. He's apparently also a suspect in other crimes including robbing a gas station in the area. A witness to the crime however claims that the man killed by the police was not the real assailant.)
(UPDATE: On July 27, 2009, after valiantly fighting for her life for about 11 months, Tara died of heart failure. She expired around 4 AM. A wake is on-going which will end on Friday night. She will be cremated on Saturday morning August 1, 2009, just 5 days shy of her 24th birthday.)
(UPDATE: Tara's mortal remains has been cremated on August 1, 2009. An online memorial has been created (http://virtual-memorials.com/main.php?action=view&mem_id=17338&page_no=1) so that guests who were unable to personally go to the wake can send their message of condolence. Photos of the wake may also be seen at http://chitoirigo.multiply.com/photos/album/73/).
We, the undersigned, petition for:
1. The Philippine Congress to enact a law that will legally obligate all drivers, conductors, managers, owners, operators, of all forms of public transport, including three-wheeled vehicles to; a) have available at all times in their vehicle, emergency or first aid kit, b) information about the vehicle's plate number, name of driver, name of company or owner, be displayed prominently and conspicuously inside their vehicle, and c) that in any criminal incident involving their vehicle, the driver must, as a matter of legal obligation, immediately and without any form of delay, bring or cause to be brought to the nearest and appropriate medical facility, the victim or victims of such criminal incident, except only if he himself is a victim and physically unable to do so, and that should he fail to comply or respond satisfactorily, he will accordingly be held liable, criminally or otherwise, for neglect or abandonment or avoiding such responsibility in connection with the crime committed.
2. The Local Government Units, to each have an emergency communication hotline and a dedicated office where any citizen, who is either a victim or witness to a crime, can seek and be provided with prompt police, legal and other appropriate assistance, for them to formulate specific ordinances that will ensure prompt attention and continuous monitoring of the actions taken by the local police force and that such information be made available to the victim or victims and their family or authorized representatives.
3. For the media, to devote a section or portion of their publication, telecast or broadcast, in cooperation with the police and other enforcement agencies, that will follow-up developments and inform the public of crimes under every police district jurisdiction. And specially for radio stations, to have a 24-hour link with police and enforcement officers to facilitate crime reporting and dragnet operations.
4. For crime-crusade oriented NGOs to spearhead, launch, and sustain a public awareness campaign to educate the citizens, including all medical personnel in all medical facilities, whether big or small, on what to do in case victims of life-threatening and emergency cases arising out of criminal activities, i.e. first aid to be administered, numbers to call, location of hospitals and police stations or satellite units.
5. For all citizens to do their own self-education on such matters as what to do in case one becomes a victim or a witness to a crime; who to get in touch with; number and location of police stations and satellites, hospitals near and around one's usual route; including taking down of plate numbers or details of the vehicles involved (in case the crime involves a vehicle), etc.
The JUSTICE FOR TARA SANTELICES: Better Crime Prevention petition to Philippine Congress, Local Government Units, Phil. National Police, Media, the Public was written by Chito Irigo and is in the category Miscellaneous at GoPetition.