By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The scheduled December 19 promulgation of the 10-year-old Maguindanao massacre case is expected to end the anxiety-filled separation of the seven children and widow of slain Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro “Bong” Reblando.
For Mayhang Reblando, the death of her father in the carnage and the subsequent snail-paced litigation of suspects had caused many untold sufferings, both socio-economically and emotionally.
“Our family’s small grocery store (in General Santos City) closed shop…My six siblings and I stopped schooling. Our mother sought refuge abroad where our youngest sister works as OFW. We (siblings) also parted ways and resided in different safer places in the country,” Mayhang told Manila Bulletin Monday.
She said the separation was caused by “death threats” from partisan quarters who were allegedly compelling them to sway their mother from pursuing the case where she is the lead complainant.
Before she left for abroad eight years ago, Reblando’s grieving widow, Myrna admitted receiving threats that aggravated her condition. Her husband’s death reportedly brought her on the brink of an “emotional breakdown.”
Mayhang shared she, too, nearly committed suicide to end her anxiety over the breakup of her family.
Mayhang who married a muslim said experts and elder kin had persuaded her to pursue her studies in business administration under a scholarship grant they worked out with the Commission on Higher Education two years ago.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes has set the promulgation of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre on Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Quezon City jail annex in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Officials of the Duterte administration have repeatedly expressed confidence that the lady judge would render a “guilty verdict” on at least the principal suspects among more than 100 people accused in the trial.
Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu vowed two weeks ago that he would resign from Congress if the court will decide on the contrary.
At the 10th year anniversary of the incident at the massacre site in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last Nov. 23, Presidential Task Force on Media Security head Joel Sy Egco said he, too, may opt to resign if the principal suspects are acquitted.
Mayhang said the families of 58 people — 32 of them media workers, slain in the massacre are pinning their “highest hope” for a guilty verdict.
For the Reblando family, Mayhang said, a favorable verdict would be their “most awaited moment” to be reunited after almost 10 years of separation.
Her father, became a regular Manila Bulletin reporter barely two months before he was killed in the election-related massacre.
Reblando was one of 32 Mindanao-based radio and print journalists intending to cover the supposed filing of certificate of candidacy of then gubernatorial aspirant Esmael Mangudadatu at the provincial elections office in Shariff Aguark, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
The filing of the COC was supposed to be done by Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, two sisters and two female lawyers, who led the convoy of vehicles that was waylaid along the highway of adjacent Ampatuan town by more than 100 armed men.
All 58 men and women who were part of the convoy were herded to a secluded hilly site at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman where they were executed and buried in pits dug by a backhoe and where mangled cars were also dumped.