MANILA - Malacañang on Saturday expressed hope that justice would finally come for 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in the 2015 botched anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
"We continue to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of these valorous men in uniform who were recipients posthumously of the PNP Medal of Valor (Medalya ng Kagitingan) and hope that justice will finally come to give closure to these officers and their grieving families," Presidential spokespeson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
As Filipinos pay homage to the bravery of the elite police commandos, he urged the public to "learn and reflect from the mistakes of this botched police operation that it will never happen again."
President Rodrigo Duterte in Feb. 2017 declared every Jan. 25 as the National Day of Remembrance for the fallen SAF 44.
The policemen were part of Oplan Exodus, a 2-pronged mission to serve arrest warrants on international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and bomb-making expert Abdul Basit Usman. Both were killed in the operation.
Just this week, the Sandiganbayan junked the graft and usurpation of official functions complaints against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and former SAF head Getulio Napeñas over the 2015 incident.
The anti-graft court said in its resolution that “upon a motu proprio evaluation of the records of the present cases,” the charges are dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Last year, the Office of the Ombudsman under Samuel Martires withdrew the graft and usurpation of official functions cases against former president Benigno Aquino III.
He was initially indicted for "criminal negligence" during the time of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.