Still ‘beautiful’

Campbells see the beauty that lured Julia to her death

LAGAWE, Ifugao–This province may be the site of the gruesome killing of US Peace Corps Julia Campbell, but her mother and sister were filled with admiration for its natural beauty.

Speaking with reporters after the court trial on Wednesday, Linda Campbell and Geary Morris said they considered Ifugao, including Banaue town, as beautiful places.

“We hope to be back in the future to see these wonderful places in Ifugao,” said Linda, 65.

The elder Campbell concluded her testimony as the prosecution’s first witness on Wednesday morning, describing in open court how Julia was, as a daughter, as a volunteer worker and as a sister to her siblings, and recounted the family’s grief over her loss.

Julia was killed at around dusk on April 8 while she was on a solo trek to Batad village in Banaue, about 30 kilometers from here, the site of the world-famous Batad rice terraces.

During their two-day visit to Ifugao for the trial, mother and daughter finally saw part of what Julia came to see before she met her death allegedly at the hands of Batad native Juan Donald Duntugan, the primary suspect in the killing.

Duntugan admitted to having killed Julia, but maintained that it was done in blind rage after he mistook her for a village bully and his long-time enemy.

From their room at the View Inn Hotel at Banaue town proper, Linda and Geary said they caught a glimpse of patches of Banaue’s famed terraces.

In her court testimony, Linda said she and Julia had planned to come to Banaue during the mother’s visit to the Philippines in August 2006.

The plan, however, did not push through. Julia came alone to Ifugao during the last Lenten break.

In an interview with reporters, Campbell thanked persons who have helped them, especially their Filipino lawyers who, they said, have been doing their best in the family’s pursuit of justice for Julia.

They maintained that murder was committed in Julia’s death.

Prosecution lawyers presented their second witness, Melvin Chorhangon, the 14-year old boy from Batad whose statement led police investigators to tag woodcarver Duntugan as a suspect in the killing.

According to Chorhangon, he saw Duntugan emerge from the bushy side of a cliff — where the body was found — as the boy was walking along the mountain trail leading to Batad in the morning of April 9.

During the cross-examination by defense lawyer Pedro Mayam-o, Chorhangon admitted, however, that he did not personally see the killing, and that he learned of the killing only through television newscasts.

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