Dying young: A tribute to Marawi’s police chief

Samira Gutoc
Dying young: A tribute to Marawi’s police chief
Superintendent Al-Abner Wahab Santos, OIC-chief of police of Marawi City, was killed in an ambush in the city Saturday, October 17.

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Abner, that far away look hours before you were shot meant that was our last eye to eye. You were just a seat away but seemed distant. You used to laugh, smile, share striking lessons about things you saw outside the Moro areas to apply here , but today at the Philippine National Police Conference, you were listless as if departing… 

My bestfriends were Tausug so when you from Sulu came to head the police in Marawi few months ago, I had found someone to talk to remind me of the beloved island. Magsukol, thanks in Tausug.

You understood the complexity of the Bangsamoro, did not condemn but connected, did not just talk but walked the dirt of streets, did the paperwork for the living to live by filing cases in courts, something which many chiefs of police can’t do for lack of witnesses, etc. You stood as the witness. And made do with 100 men to secure the 200,000 residents of Ranaw living in Marawi.

For how could you chase criminals when there was no walkie talkie nor motorcycles for your walking cops?

But try you did.

It might be your youth, you not having a family, that made you embrace the fight of urbanization’s mess, wanting to make a name for a Bangsamoro cop to be respected as well.

And then after we shared notes, and you had your boodle lunch at the PNP headquarters, why did you drive alone? When you knew you had made enemies along the way against the underground in a city where everyone from various towns bring their rage. (Read: Marawi police chief shot dead)

And then the deep, blood-thirsty armalite shots pierced through the highway, silence in our neighborhood outside our compound whose wall said The Ummah is Bleeding. There you were on the front seat, your own driver, alone with your documents and bleeding…

Your brother, a mayor in Sulu, called to ask how you were through Sergeant Poblacion, a co-Kazalimbago partner. Your body was being brought to Pagadian because there is no flight from nearby Laguindingan airport to Zamboanga.

Without question, you would join civilians in covenants to protect the environment from careless littering, stomped off illegally-plying underaged pedicab drivers, fight the rage of men who care less about parking anywhere.

Interior Secretary Menen Sarmiento asked for prayers for the officer. 

You brought the valiantry and fearlessness with you here, the warrior in a uniform undaunting in the fight against the unknown, returned back even when you were removed from being CHIEF here years ago to finish the fight against the extreme-minded who use Islam to spread fear.

You knew the fear of many, you fought to fight that fear and silence. – Rappler.com

Samira Gutoc is from Marawi City. A former assemblywoman of ARMM, she is a co-convenor for civil society of the Friends of Peace movement that is campaigning for peace in Mindanao.

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