Duterte awards medals of valor to Pabalinas, 41 others
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday honored the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers as he awarded the Medalya ng Kagitingan to the 42 other troopers killed in an encounter in Mamasapano in January 2015.
"You know it comes late, but it's better late than never... Today we pay tribute to the galant troopers from the Special Action Force who gave their lives in Mamasapano a few years ago. Their extraordinary display of bravery during the fateful operation does not just qualify them to receive their highly coveted decoration. It makes them worthy to be called as heroes," Duterte said in his speech.
He also remembered how the troopers did not die in vain, as they were able to neutralize one of the world's most wanted terrorists.
"Their tragic death in the hands of enemies who outnumbered them, surrounded them from all sides, may be one of the darkest and saddest parts of our nation's history. Yet the sad episode just proves our commitment to the sworn duty to protect our nation from terror and violence. They have successfully neutralized one of the world's most wanted terrorists," Duterte said.
"To the families of our fallen troops, I join you in remembering their legacy and honoring their memory. Rest assured that the government is doing its best to ensure that their sacrifices will not go in vain," he also said.
Duterte, likewise, assured the families of the fallen troopers that justice will be served.
"Most importantly, I assure you to remain resolute that justice, no matter how long it takes, will be served," he said.
Duterte awarded the Medalya ng Kagitingan or the Philippine National Police Medal of Valor to the late PCINSP. Ryan Pabalinas and 41 other members of the SAF 44.
Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron has previously been awarded the same medal by former president Benigno Aquino III.
Tabdi, the leader of Team 1 of SAF's 84th Special Action Company (SAC) - also called the "main effort" - was cited for "ably leading his team to their target despite extreme odds, including unfamiliar terrain, explosion of IED [improvised explosive device] that compromised their mission, and sustained fire from enemy who detected their presence."
Cemrpon, who belonged to 55th SAC which served as the blocking force that supported the assault team, on the other hand, was cited for his bravery that saved the life of PO2 Christopher Lalan, the lone survivor in the clash.