Kin of UNTV News crew members slain in Ampatuan Massacre cherish victory

Marje Pelayo
Filipinos Juliet Evardo (R) and Editha Tiamson (2-R), relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre, enter a prison facility to attend the on-going hearing at a maximum security prison in Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, on 25 May 2011.

MANILA, Philippines – The relatives of the four UNTV News crew members slain in the Ampatuan Massacre expressed relief after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 rendered its verdict to the suspects in the gruesome murder of 32 journalists and 26 other individuals on November 23, 2009.

For them, the pains that they endured for more than a decade have somehow been relieved after they heard that the primary suspects who were members of a powerful clan in Mindanao – the Ampatuans – are placed behind bars.

After the promulgation of the case earlier Thursday (December 19), they were able to smile in between tears, not in grief, but in complete joy.

Erlyn Umpad, the partner of UNTV cameraman Mc Delbert Arriola, was emotional after hearing the guilty verdict.

“Habang binabasa na ang mga pangalan ng convicted, ang luha namin (While the names of the convicted were being read, we were in tears),” Erlyn said.

“Ang saya. Sabi ko: “Salamat sa Dios!” kasi dininig Niya ang panalangin namin (We’re relieved and happy. I whispered: “Thank God!” He listened to our prayers),” she added.

UNTV Correspondent Victor Nuñez’ mother Catherine Nuñez also couldn’t hold back her tears.

“Nagkaiyakan dahil sa saya na nakuha namin ang hustisya na minimithi namin (We all cried because finally we were able to get justice,)” she said.

Editor Jolito Evardo’s brother Desiderio Evardo said what he feels now is unexplainable.

“Ako po, kung may masaya pa, pinakamasaya. Ngunit wala nang ibang saya na natanggap ko (I’m the happiest. No amount of happiness can exceed what I feel right now),” Evardo said.

Meanwhile, Editha Tiamzon has nothing but a feeling of gratitude to all who supported them on the course of their fight for justice.

Editha is the widow of UNTV Driver Daniel Tiamzon.

“Kami pong apat sa UNTV, saka ang mga kasama namin, kay Atty. Harry Roque, buong puso pong nagpapasalamat sa buong Pilipinas dahil po sa suporta ninyo (The four of us thank UNTV and Atty. Harry Roque and the entire Philippines for the support),” said Editha.

Despite today’s Court decision, Roque said they will continue to pursue further justice to all other victims as the ‘trial of the century’ continues. – MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

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