MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Philippines’ uniformed services on Friday, January 30, led a walk for unity and justice for 44 Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were gunned down by Muslim rebels during a botched operation.
Personnel from the PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), as well as the general public, were asked to gather to walk to Camp Bagong Diwa, where the remains of 42 fallen commandos were brought to on Thursday.
Seven of the slain were officers of the PNP and recent graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Commissioned officers from the PNP, BJMP, and BFP are typically from the academy.
Government officials such as Vice President Jejomar Binay were also seen taking part in the walk. Binay is an adopted member of PNPA Class 1987.
Similar walks happened in other parts of the country and even overseas on Friday, which Malacañang had earlier declared a National Day of Mourning for the fallen cops.
Despite press conference after press conference on the Maguindanao “misencounter,” the details and circumstances surrounding the SAF operation remain hazy. (READ: Maguindanao bloodbath: 3 unanswered questions)
The 44 commandos were part of a 392-man PNP SAF operation to kill alleged bomb makers Zulkifli Abdhir, better known as “Marwan” and Abdulbasit Usman, both among the US’ most wanted, on January 25, Sunday.
The two were in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a known bailiwick of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The elite group of policemen were allegedly able to kill Marwan but encountered problems soon after. (READ: Inside story: SAF kept military out of the loop)
Forty-two of the 44 arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Manila on Thursday, January 29. Two of those who died have already been buried, following their religious customs.
Late Thursday evening, the 42 were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, where the SAF headquarters is also located. Arrival honors for the 42 fallen commandos started around 9:12 pm and ended past midnight.
All 44 are set to receive a Medalya ng Kagitingan (Medal of Valor) and a post-humous promotion. The PNP has also said that surviving family members will be given death benefits. (READ: Slain cops to receive counseling, aid)
On Friday, January 30, the PNP will hold necrological services for the 42 at Bagong Diwa. The commanding officers, as well as the PNP SAF’s OIC Chief Superintendent Noel Taliño, will be giving eulogies.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and President Benigno Aquino III will also be speaking.
After the necrological services, families may bring their slain sons and husbands back to their homes and hometowns. – Rappler.com