Families of slain UNTV News Crew in Ampatuan Massacre hope to receive justice 10 years after

Maris Federez

MANILA, Philippines — After ten years of waiting and fighting, the families of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre are hoping that they will finally get justice on what had become of their loved ones.

Read: Malacañang hopes justice for Ampatuan massacre victims on Dec. 19

Erlyn Umpad, the widow of McDelbert “Mac-Mac” Arriola, the UNTV cameraman who was among those killed in that fateful day dubbed as the worst election-related violence in the world, said the suffering she had gone thru is immeasurable.

“Ibigay nila sa’min yung nararapat sa amin kasi hindi lang isang tao yung pinatay nila,” she said.

Erlyn recalled that she just had given birth to their son, Japed who is now 10 years old, when the massacre took place.

She said the most painful and difficult thing to do is to explain to her child what happened to his father.

“Nung anim na taon, nagsisimula na siyang magtanong. Bakit lagi akong pupunta (sa Maynila), nakikita daw sa TV. Sabi ko, ‘hustisya ‘yan para sa tatay mo na namatay’. ‘Bakit namatay? Bakit hindi niyo dinala sa ospital? Di ba kapag nabaril, may sugat, dadalhin sa ospital?’ Bakit hindi daw dinala. ‘Yung hindi ko kayang ipaliwanag kasi,” she lamented.

Erlyn hopes that she will finally get the justice her family deserves when the case is promulgated on Thursday (Dec. 19).

“Sana matapos na bukas, mahatulan na talaga para — ayoko na nung dadating pa ‘yung taon na kumbaga ‘Mama, bakit wala pa ring justice?’ Parang baka siya pa ang makipaglaban, ‘yung sasama pa siya para hihingi ng hustisya. Ayokong mangyari ‘yun,” she said.

Erlyn said her fight now is not just about her husband, Mac-Mac, but also about her son who also wants to follow the footsteps of his father as a cameraman.

“Sana ibigay nila ‘yung katarungan kasi ‘yung anak ko ayoko na talagang malaman pa niya na yung tao pala pwede lang palang parang hayop na pwedeng ilibing lang pag namatay, babarilin na lang ng wala namang kasalanan dahil lang sa pulitika na pinag-aanuhan dito sa gobyerno,” she added.

Editha Tiamzon, wife of UNTV driver Daniel Tiamzon who was also killed in the massacre also hopes for justice for her husband.

She said that although she fears for the worst, she remains to have a positive outlook and that justice will side with them.

“Syempre nine-nerbyos ka. Iniisip mo anong mangyayari bukas, pero inaasahan namin na merong conviction,” Editha said.

Meanwhile, Atty. Harry Roque, the counsel for the families of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre, said they hope for a “guilty” verdict on the accused.

This, he said, will prove that the judicial system is still at work, albeit turtle-paced turn of the wheel of justice.

“Sistemang bulok na umaabot sampung taon bago magkaroon ng desisyon. Ganun pa man, nakaantay naman ng sampung taon. Inaasahan naman namin na magkakaroon na ng katarungan,” he said.

Should justice chose not to side with them, Roque said he will no longer have any reason to stay in his profession and continue being a lawyer.

“Siguro, magreresign na ‘ko bilang abogado kung walang mako-convict diyan. Useless. Useless maging abogado kung ni-isa walang mako-convict diyan,” he warned.

Still, Roque said that some of the accused will be convicted, although some had posted bail and were freed.

Among them is Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan who was released in 2015 after posting bail of Php 11.6-Million.

The 16 police officers implicated in the killing were also released. — (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

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