Three years now and justice is still elusive for the victims of the Ampatuan, Maguindanao Massacre. I am both happy and sad. I am happy that at last, my father, Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay (Midland Courier) was finally included as a victim (58th victim they say) in the court. For me and for my family it was another victory. My son would say, “mom it’s 58.” We don’t need to argue with anybody now. It’s official. It’s 58!
I am sad because three years is so long to get justice for the crime openly made with so many witnesses and evidences. Maybe they wanted all those 58 to rise up from the graves and say they were killed by these people. Sometimes it’s so irritating to hear an argument in court that they could have been killed by insects, that maybe they killed each other.
Where is justice in the Philippines? Do we really have a justice system? They (the Ampatuans) were able to sell their millions worth of properties that were supposed to be frozen by the Anti Money Laundering Council. What happened? It seems like even if they are jailed, everything is possible because they have money. It even makes me wonder if they are, indeed, living like ordinary prisoners? How sure are we that they don’t get special treatment, when we hear reports that they live inside the cell like kings served 24/7?
To fight openly for years is no joke. It was so hard that it made my life restricted. I became paranoid. I couldn’t freely go wherever I wanted to… Life was never the same not only for me but for the whole family. A son of another victim told me, “kung buhi lang tani si papang indi kinanglan nga byaan ko ni mamang mag abroad siya kag magbantay sang bata sang iban para lang makakaon ko.” For the victims’ families, it was never and would never be the same again.
It frustrates me that sometimes, the government sees us as if it’s just money that we all need. Didn’t they realize that families need to be psychologically treated for trauma, too? We, families of media victims, have been lucky enough for the kind of support we were getting. We’ve got groups who saw our needs beyond financial means. Money can’t buy happiness for the kids who long for a father or mother to hug and cuddle them. The victims were, in the first place, killed because of power struggle, most likely because of money too. Indeed money is the root of all this evil deed.
To have the justice we need for our loved ones will not totally heal the wounds but somehow lessen the pain we feel. The scars will always be there, and will be there, forever.
We are now commemorating the date of the incident, their death anniversary. But how I wish that, soon, we will celebrate victory because justice is served. We deserve speedy justice. Impunity must end now!
(Reynafe “Nenen” Momay-Castillo is the daughter of Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, photographer of the Midland Courier in Sultan Kudarat province, whose remains were not found, but for his dentures. It took nearly three years for her father’s official recognition as the 58th victim. The Department of Justice in a resolution on July 12 recommended that the 196 respondents in the case be indicted for Momay’s death. The resolution, however, was only forwarded to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in late September. By the time the resolution was made public, Castillo, a registered nurse, and her family had migrated. The Castillo family had applied to go abroad as early as 2006).