“I am sad but also happy to know that many people continue to support our fight for justice.” – widow of Ampatuan massacre victim
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Edita Tiamzon and her three children took time to watch on television President Benigno Aquino III deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22.
“We were waiting for something,” Mrs. Tiamzon, wife of UNTV cameraman Daniel Tiamzon, one of the 58 killed in the Ampatuan massacre, told journalists, lawyers and law students a day after Aquino’s SONA. “When he [Aquino] said ‘Masarap maging Pilipino. Pilipino ako’ (It feels good to be a Filipino. I am a Filipino.), my youngest cried,” Mrs. Tiamzon said as she wiped her tears. “Still, we waited until he ended his speech and we did not hear what we longed to hear. We lost our hope that we would get justice before his term ends.”
Monet Salaysay, widow of Napoleon Salaysay who was among the 32 journalists killed on November 23, 2009, also felt the same.
“I am really disappointed. He [Aquino] did not mention the Ampatuan massacre in his SONA,” Mrs. Salaysay said during the monthly commemoration of the massacre held at the University of the Philippines College of Law, July 23. “During the campaign period, he promised to help us in the case.”
“It has been 44 months but the pain I feel has not subsided,” Mrs. Salaysay said, her tears falling down her face. “The case is taking so slow.”
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Ampatuan massacre case is currently locked in a limbo of motions and bail hearings.
As she began her speech, Ma. Cipriana Gatchalian, wife of Ampatuan massacre victim Jun Gatchalian Jr., pointed to the photograph of her husband. “Looking at him, it seems he is still alive,” Mrs. Gatchalian said. “In reality, he already left me and my children.”
“I know I might die without seeing the conviction of the perpetrators,” Mrs. Gatchalian said. “My children would always tell me, ‘It’s understood that they [suspects] were the ones who did it.’ Then again, we have to go with the process.”
Primary suspects former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan and his brother Andal Ampatuan Jr. and clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. are detained. A total of 194 people stand accused in the Ampatuan massacre trial but only 103 have been arrested for murder.
Mrs. Gatchalian vowed not to give up. “We are wearing red to show that we remain strong,” she said.
In a statement released during Aquino’s SONA, the media group demanded a speedier resolution of the Ampatuan massacre case and all other pending cases of journalist killings in the country.
The three widows thanked those who attended the commemoration of the Ampatuan massacre. “I have mixed emotions,” Mrs. Salaysay said. “I am sad but also happy to know that many people continue to support our fight for justice.”