A poster showing the photographs of the 44 Special Action Force troops killed by Moro rebels in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, 2015 (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)
This was how two widows described the indictment of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for graft in relation to the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members during the botched raid in Mamasapano in Maguindanao in 2015.
“I am happy with this development. I hope this will be the first step for us to achieve justice that we have been seeking for all this time,” said Kristine Clemencio, widow of PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio from Carigara town in Leyte.
Another widow, Dr. Christine Cempron, was happy that the wheels had finally started moving.
“It has been two and a half years, and finally [we got what we hoped for]. I am really very happy,” said Cempron, 36, widow of PO1 Romeo Cempron.
Clemencio admitted that she remained apprehensive that the case against Aquino might not prosper since he was a former president who remained influential.
“He is a [former] president,” she said. “The case might just be whitewashed. I am only pinning my hope to President Duterte who personally gave his assurance to us that justice will be serve to us and our loved ones(who died due to the encounter.”
Aquino will be charged in court with usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Charged with Aquino were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas.
The charges stemmed from the botched police operation that targeted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman in 2015. The police commands were able to kill the Marwan, but 44 of them also died.
Cempron vented her ire on Aquino and Purisima, who she said should be held responsible for the death of the troopers.
“I will be very happy if both of them will be incarcerated first,” she said.
“Among them, President Aquino and Purisima have the hardest hearts, as if they have not committed any lapses, as if nothing happened,” she added.
Cempron was aware, however, that it would take a long time for them to get justice.
“There will be much to overcome,” she said. “But no matter how uphill the journey will be, we will endure it if only to secure justice for the SAF 44.”