MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday paid tribute to their fallen and surviving comrades from the Special Action Force (SAF) on the 8th anniversary of the Mamasapano clash.
Haslyn Acob, widow of SAF commando MSgt. Rodrigo Fernandez Jr., fought back tears as she recalled her husband's heroism during a commemoration ceremony at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, the headquarters of the PNP's elite unit.
“It’s been 8 years and we are reliving the heroism of SAF 44 heroes at muli ay sumasariwa sa amin ang sakit na nag-iwan ng pilat sa aming puso at isipan subalit para sa amin sampu ng ibang pamilya ng Gallant 44, we are so proud,” she said.
Acob spoke on behalf of the SAF 44's bereaved families, who were still grieving the loss of their loved ones killed in a police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.
She was with her children Hazel Joy and Rodrigo III, who was named after his late father.
But despite the loss, Acob said the SAF 44's heroism and gallantry still give them strength and inspiration to go on with their lives.
She also called on Filipinos to look at the SAF 44 as "role models" in achieving peace and prosperity in the country.
Acob also thanked former President Rodrigo Duterte for giving her husband a Medalya ng Kagitingan—the PNP's Medal of Valor—in 2018, as well as an annual Christmas bonus for her family.
Acob further called on the PNP leadership to help SAF 44 orphans, especially those who want to follow their fathers' footsteps, to help them enter the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).
“Sana po ay mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang aming mga anak, most especially sa gustong pumasok sa academy na gustong sundan ang yapak ng kanilang ama,” she said.
PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. responded positively to Acob's call, assuring that SAF 44 orphans would be given priority at the PNPA.
“Actually kapag ikaw ay Medal of Valor awardee, eh Medal of Valor awardee naman lahat sila, so waived lahat. Ang ano na lang doon is iyong medical. Titingnan na lang diyan yung medical, but generally written examination waived na lahat,” said Azurin in an interview with reporters, shortly after the event.
Executive Secretary Luis Bersamin attended the event on behalf of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., thanking the beneficiaries and families of the SAF 44 who gave their lives in Mamasapano.
Aside from paying tributed to the fallen commandos, he also gave honor to those who survived the clash.
“The neutral and objective accounts of the events of that fateful day have attested that they were no less selfless, gallant and heroic in the moment of the most severe testing,”said Bersamin.
Bersamin also called on the survivors of the Mamasapano encounter:
- Lt. Col. Raymund Agustin Train
- Lt. Col. Rix Supremo Villareal
- Lt. Rommel Punzalan Magno
- Lt. Hamidhan Bibio Tebbeng
- PEMS Allan Lampitoc Franco
- PCMS Aril Labesores Ruiz
- PSMS Ryan Juevesano Temporada
- PSMS Jose Sianen Mana-ar, Jr.
- PSMS Ard Pinkihan Dulnuan
- PSMS Jovalyn Dongaso Lozano
- PSMS Dominik Oplawan Lukingan
- PSMS Anson Oloan Posot
- PMSg Clifford Pakyao Agayyong
- PMSg Eugene Barlas Macasasas
- Atty. Dioscoro Asdang Basañez
“To each of you, I offer this humble salute. You demonstrated 8 years ago your readiness to make the supreme sacrifice for the whole Filipino Nation. You are living heroes whose exploits remain worthy of celebration. May your exceptional valor serve as the singular example for other SAF commandos to emulate,” Bersamin said.
“It also reminds us that heroes - those who survived the firefight - do live in our midst," he added.
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