Cop dies in training for dream to be SAF trooper

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."


Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.