Mother of Ampatuan Massacre victim harassed anew

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 16 Oct) – The mother of one of the journalist victims in the Ampatuan Massacre has reported that suspicious persons have been asking her neighbors of her whereabouts.

The chilling part of the inquiries, her neighbors told her, is that the suspects were showing them her picture.

In an interview Tuesday, Catherine Nuñez, mother of UNTV cameraman Victor, said that around 9 a.m. Thursday last week, four men riding in tandem aboard two motorcycles asked her neighbor (name withheld for security reasons) they were looking for someone in the area.

“They then showed (my neighbor) a picture of me and asked if he knew me and where I lived. My neighbor said the men were speaking in the dialect but had a peculiar accent,” said Nuñez, who was still visibly shaken.

Fortunately, her neighbor is aware of the ongoing Ampatuan Massacre case and denied knowing her.

Nuñez’s neighbor told her the four men left their neighborhood with a white Isuzu D-Max pickup, with no license plate, trailing behind the two motorcycles.

“Before, when suspicious persons asked my neighbors if they knew a certain Cathy, I still managed to laugh it off. But now, they have a picture of me. I fear for my life,” she added.

Nuñez, who is among the most outspoken of the victims’ families pressing for justice for the victims of the November 23, 2009 massacre, has reported similar incidents at least three separate occasions that started in December 2010.

This is the first time, though, that the suspicious characters showed a picture of her when asking her whereabouts.

She added that the men hunting her down seemed to know the kind of business she works for and have also been asking around for addresses of these businesses in the area.

“This is the problem with drawn out cases. Witnesses and relatives of victims are harassed and intimidated so that they will recant their statement or withdraw their cases. Worse, they are killed faster than government can arrest the suspects of the crime,” lamented JB Deveza, safety officer of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Mindanao Media Safety Office.
To date, six witnesses of the Ampatuan Massacre have already been killed. (Cong Corrales / MindaNews)