Pain cannot suffice our sorrow over the death of Ellah Joy Pique, a six-year-old elementary pupil of Calajoan Elementary School in Calajoan, Minglanilla, Cebu. Abducted on her way home by a pedophile Caucasian male together with a Filipina counterpart, Ellah Joy was deceived and joined the death ride she never wished to happen to her.
Innocent as she was, the culprits succeeded. Her decomposed body was found 40 kms. away from their home a day after she was last seen. Naked and wrapped inside white blankets with three big rocks and tied with a cable, the innocent child was found below a cliff with brushes and contusions in her head and both arms.
One can only imagine a defenseless little girl being robbed off her right to breathe under the hands of individuals without mercy. The autopsy report added tremendous pain. It showed that the innocent little girl was struck in the head and had bruises on her shoulders, indicating a struggle. And a lacerated wound in the head causing her death.
A lot has been said over the death of Ellah Joy. The entire community is grieving. Our indescribable hatred to the culprits reached beyond we can imagine. Our pain diminishes us all. How can we assure ourselves that Ellah Joy will be the last? How can we assure that the community we are living will experience the kind of safety children like Ellah Joy need?
We asked. As if answers will comfort us. And hoping it will never happen again. But can comfort replace the death of an angel?
And then, a lot of Ellah Joy’s are dying each day too.
While her death is truly unimaginable and throwing the culprits into a cliff may not be sufficient to give justice to her untimely demise, why can’t we grieve also to those like her, innocent and young, literally dying in the midst of an un-mindful society? We ignore them, minding our own business. And grieve only when their death is reported and we begin to howl.
We are a society filled with children who are prone to inhumane conditions. In school, children attending classes with empty stomach suddenly collapsed before the flag ceremony. Child labor, as a product of an unjust social structure is rampant. Instead of going to school, children begin to work to help feed the family and their right to experience the beautiful life of childhood is taken away from them. Others are involved in a more disturbing and deeply saddening situation – sex work.
Those are material basis for culprits who abducted Ellah Joy is taking advantage of. Such is a grim reminder of our society filled with hypocrisy where children are easy targets.
Widespread poverty, corrupt justice system and ineffective bureaucracy are reason enough why demons like them used the Philippines and in particular the rural areas as their base to exploit the young and innocent. As long as our children will continue to live this way, more children are vulnerable to be the next Ellah Joy and bleed the headlines.
And our hearts will continue to melt in pain, grieving and dying each day in the midst of an environment that aided the death of Ellah Joy.