She thought justice was a distant reality.
But Dr. Christine Cempron, whose husband was among the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members who were killed during a clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015, now has hope.
“I felt everything was lost to memory. But no. I realized that the wheels of justice has started moving ,” she told Cebu Daily News.
Cempron, 36, was overjoyed when she read the newspaper on Saturday morning that the Office of the Ombudsman indicted former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Mamasapano raid.
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.
Also impleaded were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former Special Action Force Director Getulio Napenas.
“It has been two and a half years, and finally (we got what we hoped for). I am really very happy,” Cempron said.
Her husband, PO1 Romeo Cempron, was among the 44 SAF troopers who died during a botched police operation that targeted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman in 2015.
The Cebuana widow vented her ire on former President Aquino and Purisima, who she said should be held responsible for the death of the 44 government 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.
While the two officials are facing trial, Cempron knew that their search for justice still has a long way to go.
“There will be much to overcome, but no matter how uphill the journey will be, we will endure it if only to secure justice for the SAF 44,” she said.
“I don’t care if it will take a long time. At least, the case is moving,” she added.
Cebu Daily News tried but failed to reach another widow, Michelle Candano, wife of PO2 Windel Candano — another Cebuano who died in the Mamasapano clash in 2015.
Another widow Kristine Clemencio of Tacloban City also welcomed the development of the case.
“I am happy. Hope this will be the first step for us to achieve justice that we have been seeking for all this time,” said Clemencio, widow of PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio from Carigara town in Leyte.
She, however, expressed apprehensions that the case against Aquino may not prosper.
“He is a (former) president. 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 served to us and our loved ones (who died in the encounter),” Clemencio said.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said he too hopes that justice will be served to the families of the SAF 44.
“Justice is really their clamor. We hope there will be an answer to it,” he said.
In its investigation, the Ombudsman said Aquino continued to receive Purisima’s advise, as shown in text messages presented in the Senate probe on the massacre, although the police official was serving a suspension at that time over the alleged anomalous courier service deal the PNP entered under his leadership.