Duterte declares Jan 25 'Day of National Remembrance' for SAF 44

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte declared January 25 of every year as a "Day of National Remembrance" for the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao two years ago.

In Proclamation No. 164, signed February 21 and released to media on Sunday, February 26, Duterte said the heroism of the SAF 44 "also serves as a constant reminder of the continuing sacrifices being made by our valiant uniformed men and women in the line of duty."

The 44 SAF troopers were killed in a high-stakes operation on January 25, 2015, as they targeted known terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan and Basit Usman.

Members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC), the main striking force, were greeted by enemy fire just as they killed Marwan. The 55th SAC, the main blocking force, found themselves pinned down in Barangay Tukanalipao, surrounded by local armed individuals and groups.

Nine members of the 84th SAC and all but one member of the 55th SAC died during the hours-long clashes, the bloodiest operation in the history of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"I ask all our countrymen to remember the heroism of the SAF 44 and recall the daily sacrifices of our uniformed personnel for the sake of the continued peace and security of our nation," Duterte stated in the proclamation.

Below is a copy of Proclamation No. 164:

The Mamasapano clash also claimed the lives of at least 19 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and 5 civilians. (READ: The mourners of Mamasapano)

On the 2nd anniversary of the deadly encounter, the President had met with families of the slain troopers, who told him they continue to seek justice.

Duterte initially promised he would create a commission to reinvestigate the Mamasapano clash, but later said it would be redundant to do so since the Office of the Ombudsman is already pursuing a case.

The President also approved the awarding of the Medal of Valor to 42 out of the 44 troopers – the other 2 had previously been awarded – but this "wholesale" distribution was opposed by certain individuals, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The PNP later said the SAF troopers would be getting the Medalya ng Kagitingan and not the Medal of Valor. (READ: FACT CHECK: Is the PNP's 'Medalya ng Kagitingan' different from the 'Medal of Valor?'– Rappler.com