MANILA— Eden Ridao stopped by a framed photo of her husband in their Koronadal City home on Wednesday morning, barely catching sleep the night before as she awaited an upcoming ruling on his murder case 10 years ago.
Anthony Ridao, then 41, was mistaken as part of a convoy of political supporters and reporters seized by some 100 heavily-armed men from a highway then massacred in a hillside in the province of Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
In fact, he was a government employee on his way back to work in Cotabato City after spending the weekend with his wife and 2 young daughters.
He took 6 bullets and was found in a nearby mass grave, his vehicle exhumed with the pile of dead bodies as well.
“After 10 years, sana, finally, may hustisya na,” his wife Eden said, addressing the 8x10 photo she neatly kept in their bedroom.
(After 10 years, I hope there will finally be justice.)
Judgment day is set on Dec. 19 at the top-security police camp in Taguig City on the worst election-related violence in Philippine history.
The fatalities included 32 media workers who were supposed to cover the candidacy filing of a rival politician seeking to challenge the Ampatuan clan’s control of Maguindanao province in the 2010 elections.
Like other relatives of victims, Eden Ridao was hoping for a conviction even if it “will no longer bring our loved ones back.”
“Kahit papano maibsan (Somehow it would ease), but definitely, not totally eradicate our pain,” she told ABS-CBN News.
“Hindi mo lubos maisip, especially yung husband ko, nadamay lang. Parang sinira nila yung buhay namin.”
(You can't imagine, especially my husband who was passing by. It's like they destroyed our lives.)
FEAR OF RETALIATION
Eden Ridao and several other relatives of the Maguindanao massacre victims were set to fly to Manila on Wednesday evening to witness the court ruling set at 9 a.m. the following day.
Their lawyer, Nena Santos, said they were careful about their security because of fears of retaliation from the Ampatuans and their supporters in the event of a conviction.
“May mga ganung kumakalat pero we’re hoping and praying na sana hindi naman mangyari,” said Eden Ridao.
(Rumors like that spread but we're hoping and praying it won't happen.)
Santos said she also preferred the entire ruling would be read so her clients would understand how Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes arrived at her decision.
Eden Ridao will attend Thursday’s promulgation with her own measure of victory, having single-handedly raised her daughters, who were 12 and 10 years old, respectively, when their father was murdered.
The family got by with Eden’s salary with the National Economic and Development Authority’s regional office.
But she also had to take extra jobs, including selling insurance, to make sure the children would remain in school.
Her eldest daughter now has a degree in medical technology while the second one is studying nursing.
“Kahit ang hirap, gusto kong maging strong para maitaguyod 'yung pag aaral nila,” she said.