âWorth the waitâ: Victims' kin welcome Ampatuan massacre case verdict but worry for their safety
Relatives and press freedom advocates hold up photos of the Ampatuan massacre victims at a press conference after the promulgation of the verdict in the case on December 19, 2019.
Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas Jr.

‘Worth the wait’: Victims' kin welcome Ampatuan massacre case verdict but worry for their safety

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 19, 2019 - 5:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The families of the victims in the gruesome Ampatuan massacre hailed the guilty verdict handed to the principal suspects in the slaughter, ending their decade-long quest for justice. 

Victims' kin were all smiles when they walked out of the annex court in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig after Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes ended the hearing and the 10-year-old case. 

Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan were found guilty of 57 counts of murder and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole.

RELATED: Dentures not enough to prove death of 58th Maguindanao massacre victim — court 

Accompanied by their lawyers, the victims' kin, were all smiles and flashed "victory" signs at the crowd outside the annex court. 

For the son of one victim, the decade-long wait was “worth it.” 

"I am happy. Even if we waited more than a decade for justice, it felt worth it," 20-year-old Jay Mark Jhoy Duhay said in Filipino. He was in fourth grade when his dad Jhoy Duhay was killed. 

He added: "Even if you were taken from us too soon, know that we love you and we have found justice." 

Erlyn Umpad, widow of Mark Gilbert Arriola, considers the judgment a “gift.” 

Noemi Parcon, widow of slain journalist Joel Parcon, said she has already forgiven the suspects but she did not forget the quest for justice 

"We have moved on. We have moved forward but we will never forget what happened to our loved ones," she also said.

But while they are happy that the primary suspects are convicted, they expressed fear that those who were acquitted and the suspects who remain at large would come for them. 

READ: Maguindanao massacre verdict: Zaldy Ampatuan, Andal Jr. found guilty of murder

Police personnel among acquitted

Most of those who were acquitted were police personnel of Maguindanao province at the time of the massacre. 

Eighty individuals—including police and soldiers—have also evaded arrest. 

“We need security because it is dangerous that there are many of them who are at large," RG Caniban, partner of slain journalist John Caniban, said. 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chair Nonoy Espina challenged the government to protect the victims' families. 

“Let the state own up to its own actions,” he said. 

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