MANILA, Philippines – Seven years after the deadly Mamasapano clash, the Philippine National Police (PNP) commemorated the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who died in Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.
The tribute ceremony was led by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and PNP chief Police General Dionardo Carlos at SAF Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City. The commemoration was based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 164 declaring every 25th of January as national day of remembrance for the SAF 44.
In a pursuit to target Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as “Marwan,” members of the PNP’s elite force were killed in a clash with Muslim rebels. The operation was originally called “Oplan Exodus.”
The killed troopers were posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor and the Order of Lapulapu – the most prestigious awards given to uniformed personnel and officers.
Justice Secretary Guevarra said the courageous act of the SAF 44 was “etched in our collective memory.”
“To the families they left behind, they were sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. To the people and country they served, they were and are heroes whose devotion to the nation proves more powerful than death itself. The plight of these 44 heroes is a story inked in history and etched in our collective memory,” Guevarra said.
Carlos, in a separate message, said the tragic fate of the fallen troopers was “a lesson we must not forget.”
“Never again are we going to allow history to repeat itself. The tragic loss of SAF 44 is a lesson learned we must not forget. Their lives are irreplaceable. Like generations of warrior heroes before them, our SAF 44 gave everything they had, not for glory, nor for any gratitude, but for something greater than themselves,” the PNP chief said. – Rappler.com