Cop dies in training for dream to be SAF trooper

Rambo Talabong
Cop dies in training for dream to be SAF trooper
Before he died in a PNP SAF training course, Manny Jose Baldonado actively shared photos of him training for his dream to become a commando

MANILA, Philippines – A newbie cop has died trying to fulfill his dream of entering the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s elite unit, the Special Action Force (SAF).

Patrolman Manny Jose Baldonado, 27, died on Sunday, June 2, after drowning in a SAF Commando Training course at the SAF Training Branch Annex in Barangay Baha, Calatagan town in Batangas.

According to the police report, Baldonado “accidentally drowned during the conduct of their practical exercise on diagnostic combat swim” at around 9:10 am.

Police reported that the SAF instructors applied first aid before Baldonado was brought to the Metro Balayan Medical Center. There, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The PNP SAF is known for its intense training courses as it aims to develop cops expected to lead high-profile operations, and firefights in urban and jungle battles. Just in April 2018, another cop died also during a water training exercise.

Before he died, Baldonado actively shared photos of his yearlong training to become a SAF trooper on his Facebook page.

Messages of grief have flooded his Facebook page, with one picture labeling him as a full-fledged SAF trooper: “Paalam (Farewell), SAF Manny Jose Baldonado.”


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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.