Mamasapano veteran back to lead PNP SAF

MANILA, Philippines – A veteran of the infamous Mamasapano clash which rocked the country in 2015 is back to lead the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF).

Director Noli Taliño was placed as the director of the elite force on Thursday, January 18, upon the order of PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. Prior to his return to PNP-SAF, Taliño was assigned to the PNP's Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development. 

Taliño was the SAF deputy chief when the bloody 'misencounter' happened. He was later tapped as the officer-in-charge after the sacking of then chief Director Leo Napeñas.

He was on the other side of the radio when 392 SAF troopers entered the territory of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to capture Marwan and another terrorist, Abdulbasit Usman.

Of the hundreds in enemy territory that fateful day, 44 perished and are now endeared in public memory as the courageous "SAF 44." At least 5 civilians were also killed from the botched operation, now used as grounds for graft and usurpation charges against former President Benigno Aquino III.


Taliño was one of 12 PNP generals reshuffled by Dela Rosa on Thursday.

From Directorate of Police Community Relations, Director Noel Constantino was transferred to the Directorate of Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) Western Mindanao.

Constantino was replaced at the DPCR by Director Eduardo Garado from DIPO-Southern Luzon. Lusad replaced Garado in heading the regional DIPO.

From the Cordillera Regional Police, Chief Superintendent Elmo Sarona was assigned to the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management. He was replaced by Chief Superintendent Edward Carranza from the PNP Health Service.

Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor, who came from the ARMM police was assigned to the Directorate for Operations (DO). From the DO, Chief Superintendent Emmanuel Licup was transferred to the Region 4B police.

Chief Superintendent Robert Quenery from Region 2 police was assigned to Region 7, replacing Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino. Espino was transferred to Region 10 police. Sent to Region 2 police, Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb who came from Region 10.

The reshuffling comes a week before the third anniversary of the Mamasapano incident on January 25. –

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.