SAF 44 widow hopeful for justice under Duterte

Carine Asutilla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2017 04:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2017 09:01 PM

PNP officers pay tribute as the caskets of the fallen SAF members are laid out at the Villamor Air Base tarmac. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for

CEBU – The widow of one of the 44 elite policemen killed in Mamasapano is hopeful that she will finally get justice for the death of her husband under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Michelle Candano, widow PO2 Windell Candano, lamented that two years on, no one has been made to account for the death of her husband and his comrades.

“There is no justice. Tell me, who has been jailed for the carnage? Who has been punished? None,” Candano said.

“There’s still pain. We are trying to move on but we are finding it hard because we have yet to obtain justice.”

Duterte on Tuesday met the widows and other relatives of the 44 elite policemen killed in a botched anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao two years ago.

Candano also said they will ask Duterte to grant a medal of valor to the rest of the slain SAF troopers.

"It is unfair that only two were given based only on the account of witnesses. The operation was wide. It lasted hours. How can a person tell everything and see everyone in action? They all risked their lives, they deserve the Medal of Valor too," she said in Cebuano.

Medal of Valor is the highest honor given to members of PNP. Among the SAF 44 troopers, it was only given to Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron.

Candano said she already received the housing assistance from the National Housing Authority, part of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s P300,000 livelihood assistance, scholarship for his son from the National Police Commission, and a piggery from Department of Labor and Employment which was given to the parents of PO2 Candano.

Candano continues to work at the Post Office as one of the assistance given to her by the government.

The meeting between Duterte and the SAF widows comes as the nation marks Wednesday the second anniversary of the gruesome killings.

The president last week said he does not mean to politicize the meeting.

The Mamasapano massacre dealt a serious blow to the credibility and popularity of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, as the operation which led to the deaths of 44 elite policemen was carried out allegedly under the orders of a suspended police chief.

The suspended police chief was Alan Purisima, who is known for his closeness to Aquino.

The main target of the anti-terror raid, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, was killed, but at the expense of the 44 cops who clashed with private armed groups, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which at the time was at the height of peace negotiations with the government.