MANILA - Emotions ran high as the bodies of 42 slain Philippine National Police-Special Action Force commandos arrived at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City Thursday after the botched anti-terror raid in Maguindanao.
Video footage showed relatives including children weeping as fellow SAF operatives carried the flag-draped metal coffins of the fallen troops out of the C-130 planes.
Present during the arrival honors at the airbase were Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and other top police officials.
The bodies will be brought to the multipurpose gym beside the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa for the wake.
A total of 44 SAF troops were killed during a mission to arrest two terror suspects, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday.
Elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said they fired at the SAF troops, numbering 392 men, out of self-defense.
Only 42 of the slain troops, including members of the SAF's 84th Seaborne Battalion and the 5th Action Battalion, arrived in Manila after two of the police commandos were already buried in Zamboanga.
President Aquino earlier confirmed that he talked to the SAF commander before the mission was carried out in Mamasapano. He said the SAF commander failed to coordinate with the military before carrying out the plan to arrest the two terror suspects.