Raphael says that the story gets serious now. As Gardo predicted, four vans of police come to Behala that night; the officers search everyone’s homes and they arrest Raphael. It’s hard for Raphael to tell this part, but nobody else can. The police drag Raphael to a car. Gardo yells and tries to yank Raphael away, but his uncles hold him back. The car pulls away while Gardo and Raphael’s auntie scream. Raphael rocks back and forth, feeling his world fall out from under him. Raphael sobs and he claims that he didn’t do anything wrong. The policemen reply that they know but they keep driving anyway. Even though Rat has the wallet, Raphael resolves to say nothing. The boys know about José Angelico—there’s “a fight beginning.”
The violent manner in which Raphael is arrested and the extent of his fear are highly disturbing. Both indicate how vulnerable poor people are in this society because they have to fear the police, who are supposed to protect citizens’ safety. Behala’s residents display a strong sense of community through their attempts to protect Gardo from being arrested too. Additionally, the reader learns that Raphael is developing a sense of solidarity with José Angelico despite having never met him.
The police car pulls into the station and goes underground while police dogs bark. Raphael wets himself out of fear. The officers pull him out of the car under bright lights and they carry him into a cell containing only a concrete bench. Seconds later, a policeman came in to comfort Raphael, who throws up all over himself and cries for his auntie like he’s never cried before. Suddenly, a man comes in and has Raphael hauled upstairs and placed in a room marked “six.” A tired man explains that Raphael is in Ermita Police Station and he asks about the bag. Raphael tries to speak, but nothing comes out. Eventually he squeaks out that he doesn’t know anything about a bag.
The detailed description of Raphael’s ride to the police station and Raphael’s visceral fear at being separated from his caregiver show how vulnerable he is. The fact that children can be treated in such a traumatizing manner by the police hints that this city’s government is highly corrupt. Raphael’s initial resolve to say nothing about the bag despite his fear both proves his courage and suggests that he feels a strong sense of solidarity with José Angelico, the bag’s owner.
The tired man says that this won’t end until Raphael gives them the bag. Shaking, Raphael knocks over a glass of water. Playing “a terrified, foolish child,” he swears he’s never found one but that he did find 1,100 pesos. The police knew he’d been lying about something—they ask about the money, and Raphael lied, saying he found it alone “by belt number four.” Suddenly, Raphael is knocked to the floor; his face splits open and his mouth fills with blood. The police haul Raphael up to the chair by his hair as he screams that he was with Gardo. The police slap Raphael’s bleeding, snotty face and they ask what the money was in. Thinking fast, Raphael says that it was in an electricity bill.
The sheer horror of the violence that Raphael endures shows that the police are indeed overstepping the boundaries of their power, and it reinforces just how vulnerable impoverished children are in this society. It’s no exaggeration that Raphael is fighting for his life, which no child should have to do in police custody. Raphael’s quick thinking at making up the story about the electricity bill shows just how astute he is—especially under pressure.
The tired man fires repeated questions at Raphael: he asks how “trash like you” can read (Gardo and Raphael’s auntie taught him), how much money he found (1,100 pesos), and where the bag was (there was no bag). The man lunges at Raphael’s neck, pinning him to the wall. Raphael soils himself and he screams that he didn’t find a bag. The police hang Raphael out of the window by his ankle, where all Raphael can see is a stone floor far below. Later, Gardo and Rat ask if Raphael came close to confessing, but he says that some deep part of him couldn’t—he just kept saying no. The officers pull Raphael back in and he fell to his knees, begging and repeating that he doesn’t know anything. Somehow, he knows now that he got the strength from José Angelico.
The tired man’s metaphoric reference to Raphael as “trash” is ironic, as the brutality that Raphael is enduring implies the exact opposite: it’s the police who are acting deplorably—like scum, or “trash”—by violating Raphael, threatening his life, and assuming his poverty means he is of no value. However, Raphael draws a great deal of strength from his sense of solidarity with José Angelico, which implies that people in vulnerable positions can endure difficult encounters through such solidarity.
The tired man twists Raphael’s arm behind him and says that they could break all of Raphael’s bones—starting with his arm—and drag Raphael to a “special place” for “garbage” like him. Then they could put Raphael’s body in a sack in the trash. The tired man asks Raphael if that’s what he wants. Unable to speak, Raphael blinks and waits for a snap—but none comes. Again, the man asks where the bag was and Raphael sobs, saying that he doesn’t know anything about a bag. Looking more tired, the man sizes up Raphael’s soiled body, as if deciding on its value. Eventually, the tired man says, “Get him out.” Before Raphael knows it, he’s out on the street and running as fast as his wobbly legs can go. He is free and—unlike José Angelico—alive.
The reference to Raphael as “garbage” shows once again that the police unfairly assume that poor people are worthless. Yet Raphael is able to trick the police into believing he doesn’t have the bag, indicating that he is, in fact, highly intelligent. The police’s brutality exposes just how vulnerable to abuse and trauma impoverished children are, while revealing that the police force is corrupted in some way since they are willing to go to such lengths to get the information they want.