Mamasapano widow, 20, to work as domestic helper in Oman
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – The death of her husband in the Mamasapano clash in January 2015 has left Sarah Langayen, 20, the responsibility of raising their young children. But in a place where decent-paying jobs are scarce, she is forced to leave them and seek employment far away.
The wife of slain farmer Badrudin, one of the civilians killed in the crossfire between elite cops and Muslim rebels, is waiting for her plane tickets for Oman to work as a domestic helper there. She said her mother will take care of her two children while she’s away.
As the Philippine Senate is scheduled to re-open next week the probe into the bloodiest police operation in recent history, Langayen lamented how justice remains elusive. Her husband was found dead, his body riddled with bullets in the aftermath of the encounter in Barangay Tukanalipao on January 25 last year.
The nation mourned the death of 44 elite cops who joined the operation to kill bomber Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian terrorist wanted by the United States. But little attention was given to the civilians killed in the crossfire, much less to the rebels who died in an operation that the police admitted was "defective from the beginning" and was "poorly implemented."
The Mamasapano clash disturbed the relative peace the war-torn town had enjoyed since the resumption of the talks between the government and the dominant Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The blame game that followed derailed the negotiations.
While politicians and various government and non-governmental organizations granted the families of the dead SAF troopers cash and scholarships, Langayen said the aid they received was barely enough.
“Life remains the same, it is still difficult,” she said.
Langayen said she hopes to earn enough money abroad to repair the dilapidated hut that her husband built for their family and to send her two children to school until they finish college.
While the peace talks hang in the balance, Langayen said she continues to dream that the nightmare will be over when she returns to Mamasapano. – Ferdh Cabrera