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

Maris Federez   •   December 18, 2019   •   599

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

Key witness in Maguindanao massacre case hurt in South Cotabato ambush

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A witness in the Maguindanao massacre trial who is under state protection was injured in an ambush in South Cotabato on Wednesday.

Lawyer Nena Santos, who represents several families of the massacre victims, said Mohamad Sangki, his driver, and one security escort from the Department of Justice’s witness protection program (WPP) were traversing Tantangan, South Cotabato on their way to the airport when they were ambushed.

Sangki was not hit by the bullets but he sustained injuries due to the impact of the vehicle when it slammed against two cottages along the road, Santos said.

The security escort was able to return fire but the gunmen fled the scene.

“The driver is 50/50 but prognosis is bad,” she added.

Santos said they are now being treated in a hospital while authorities are pursuing the perpetrators.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will order an investigation into the shooting incident.

“Sangki is a vital witness in the second wave of prosecution for the Maguindanao massacre, and it is not far-fetched that his ambush today had something to do with the horrible case,” Guevarra said in a statement.

This is the second time that Sangki’s life was threatened after he survived an ambush try in Sharif Aguak town in Maguindanao in March.

The Maguindanao massacre, the country’s worst case of election-related violence, claimed the lives of 58 people on November 23, 2009.

Most of the victims were media personnel who joined the convoy of Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s wife to cover the filing of his certificate of candidacy for the governor’s position.

In December 2019, members of the Ampatuan clan were found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment for the murder of 57 people in Maguindanao.

Among those convicted were Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan, and Datu Anwar, Sr. who are sons of the late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. accused of masterminding the gruesome crime. –RRD (details from Correspondence Janice Ingente)

Cop linked to 2009 Ampatuan massacre surrenders to CIDG

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir

MANILA, Philippines – A police officer tagged in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre case has surrendered after more than 10 years of hiding, authorities said Wednesday.

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional field unit 15 around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Barangay Linandangan, Pagalungan in Maguindanao.

Police said they took Baraquir into custody based on an arrest warrant for 56 counts of murder signed by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

Baraquir is also listed in the national level most wanted persons, according to a report to CIDG acting director Brig. Gene. Joel Napoleon Coronel.

Earlier, two massacre suspects were separately arrested by authorities in Maguindanao after the court released last December 2019 its verdict on the gruesome killing.

On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to several members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr., and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

Another Ampatuan massacre fugitive arrested

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2020

Ampatuan massacre suspect, Gambayan Kasim, also known as Lori Alip

MANILA, Philippines – Another at-large suspect in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre has been finally caught after eluding arrest for over a decade, authorities said Friday.

Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM) identified the suspect as 47-year old Gambayan Kasim, also known as Lori Alip.

The PRO-BARMM added that Kasim, an alleged member of a private armed group, was arrested after he was served a warrant of arrest on Thursday, January 9 at Barangay Timbangan in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao.

Authorities recovered a hand grenade from Kasim’s possession.

During the operation, Kasim’s alleged cohort, identified as Edsrail Guiomla alias Nas Guiomla, fired shots at the operatives.

Police retaliated and injured Guiomla. He was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead upon arrival.

Recovered form Guiomla was a caliber .45 gun and 13 sachets of suspected shabu (crystal meth).

Police said Kasim and the collected pieces of evidence were turned over to proper authorities for documentation and disposition.

Last January 6, police also nabbed Faisal Dimaukom alias Kagi Faizal, who is one of the suspects in the massacre.

Dimaukom was arrested during an operation in Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Kasim and Dimaukom are among the 80 out of nearly 200 suspects in the massacre who were at large when the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 released last month its verdict on the gruesome killing.

On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to some members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr. and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

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