Cordillera unveils 3rd SAF 44 shrine on Mamasapano clash anniversary

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Cordillera got its 3rd shrine for the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) fighters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who were killed during the Mamasapano encounter 5 years ago. 

“Considering that most of those members of the SAF 44 came from this region, it is only fitting for us to commemorate their heroism and bravery,” said Police Brigadier General Israel Ephraim Dickson, Cordillera police director, during the opening of the SAF Memorial at Ifugao Park at The Manor at Camp John Hay on Wednesday, January 22. (READ: The SAF 44: Our sons, our heroes)

The shrine was inaugurated in time for the 5th anniversary of the Mamasapano clash, which happened on January 25, 2015. (READ: Duterte declares Jan 25 'Day of National Remembrance' for SAF 44)

Fourteen of the members of the elite SAF were from the Cordillera. Some of their loved ones attended the wreath-laying together with Dickson. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, DILG Assistant Secretary Manuel Felix, SAF Director Major General Amando Clifton Empiso, Cordillera regional police, and Camp John Hay Group of Companies chairman Robert John Sobrepeña also attended the event.   

Mayor Magalong, who was the chief of the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the time of the clash, led the probe into the botched anti-terrorist operation. He said his investigation, which showed that then-president Benigno Aquino III committed lapses during the top-secret operation, was the reason he wasn't appointed PNP chief. (READ: General who led SAF 44 probe is next Baguio City mayor)

The first SAF memorial was built at Lepanto National High School in 2017. This was primarily to honor the 3 alumni of school who died in Mamasapano: Police Master Sergeant Noel Onangey Gologan, Staff Sergeant Noble Sungay Kiangan, and Corporal Angel Chocowen Kodiamat.

The memorial also honored Police Captain Tabdi and Captain Cyrus Anniban; Master Sergeant Robert Allaga; Staff Sergeants Peterson Carap, Joel Dulnuan, Walner Danao, Franklin Danao, Jerry Kayob, and Nicky Nacino Jr; and Russel Bilog and Gringo Cayang-o, both corporals.

In 2018, the Hero’s Memorial was set up at Camp Bado Dangwa, also for the fallen SAF fighters. – Rappler.com