(We veer momentarily from humor to salute the SAF Fallen 44)
Today, Herald Express pays tribute particularly to each of the Fallen 44 of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and in general, other officers who died in the line of duty and also to the living men and women of the PNP.
So shall it be written again, so shall the Fallen SAF 44 and the 16 others who sustained severe injuries not easily be forgotten.
Their ultimate sacrifice with their lives to the Filipino people and the nation shall never be stricken off the record. Their labors have not been in vain.
But neither will we forgot those few who, drunk with power then, treacherously fed the SAF into the lion’s den as the 60 officers fell by the wayside, as they courageously and gallantly fought back with the last drop of their blood.
By all indications, the SAF could have fought off the sheer numbers of the marauders who combined themselves to gang up on the officers, had they been given tactical back-up support.
But the support that was supposed to move into position never arrived. They were treacherously left to fend for themselves against a backdrop of superior firepower and overwhelming odds.
No less than then Police Director Benjamin Magalong who headed the PNP Board of Inquiry into the Mamasapano bloodbath intimated of persistent pressure for the inquiry to whitewash the investigation.
But the board stood its ground to ferret out the truth.
They took upon them the profession of law enforcement from the pure motive of service to the people, “To Serve and Protect.”
They went above and beyond the call of duty.
January, day, 25, year 2015 will be long remembered by Filipinos when a courageous SAF group became a beacon of light in the search for peace and stability in the Mindanao area.
As they fell, one by one, they have come home at last into the bosom the Creator – having fought our country’s battles with the honorable badges of distinction gained in a cause worthy of a Filipino police officer.
They shall be remembered by this roll call:
With the rank of PO1: Romano Cumanoy Cempron, Mark Lory Orloque Clemencio, Joseph Gumatay Sagunoy, Oliebeth Ligutan Viernes, Gringo Charag Cayang-o, Loreto Guyab Capinding, Windell Llano Candano, Angel C. Codiamat, and Russel Bawaan Bilog.
With the rank of PO2: Romeo Valles Senen II, Rodel Eva Ramacula, Omar Agacer Nacionales, Ephraim G. Mejia, Noble Sungay Kiangan, Jerry Dailay Kayob, Walner Faustino Danao, Franklin Cadap Danao, Godofredo Basak Cabanlet, Joel Bumidang Dulnuan, Noel Nebrida Balaca, Richelle Salangan Baluga, Chum Goc-ong Agabon, Glen Berecio Badua, Nicky DC Nacino Jr., Roger C. Cordero, Peterson I. Carap, and Amman Misuari Esmulla.
With the rank of PO3, John Lloyd Rabammonte Sumbilla, Robert Dommolog Allaga, Jed-in Abubakar Asjali, Junrel Narvas Kibete, Noel Onangey Golocan, Vitoriano Nacion Acain, Andres Viernes Duque Jr., Virgel S. Villanueva and Rodrigo F. Acob Jr.
With the rank of SPO1: Lover L. Inocencio.
With the rank of Inspector: Rennie Tayrus and Joey Sacristan Gamutan.
With the rank of Senior Inspector: Gednat G. Tabdi, Cyrus Paleyan Anniban, Max Jim Ramirez Tria, John Gerry Alcantara Erana and Ryan Ballesteros Pabalinas.
Solemn to note that 15 of the Fallen 44 were descendants of the sturdy tribes of northern Luzon.
They were Angel Kodiamat of Mankayan, Jerry Kayob from La Trinidad, Noble Kiangan from Mankayan, Gednat Tabdi from La Trinidad, and Peter Carap from Kabayan.
Cyrus Anniban from Kalinga.
Noel Golocan from Sagada and Gringo Cayang-o from Sadanga.
Walner Faustino Danao and Nicky Nacino Jr. from Baguio City
Rodrigo Acob Jr., from Isabela and Joel Dulnuan of Nueva Viscaya.
There is more than all words and fine speeches about heroism. But regrettably, acts of bravery do not always have happy endings. They faced tragedy in the face of their work.
The Fallen 44 have the valor, the making of great men and render them immortal, because they themselves are so.
Yet, nothing can match the tears of loved ones left behind by SAF 44, the tears which tremble in their eyes; the tears through which their smiles beam in affectionate recognition of tales about their fallen loved ones spoken more eloquently to the heart.
We shall remember them, although flown were their hopes that once cheered up their breasts, remembering them, although sad, is yet pleasing.
Our thoughts for them will still be from the present, although blessed, will dwell on the past without ceasing.
Home – the Fallen 44 have come home to God’s nest; the 44 eagles have landed!
Came the word, home, most welcome to the Fallen 44 fatally wounded and tired of scenes of blood they witnessed. God’s Home had more charms for them than to many other persons.
It is here they heard the joyful intelligence of peace and the sound of home which echoed from every quarter.
They have experienced deadly hatred of man against man, the secret murderous attacks and the demoniac rage which influenced the contending parties in troubled Mindanao, the scathed and ruins of communities in the villages and cities, and all the horrors of protracted warfare.
They, sickened by the misery and carnage by which they have been surrounded, and they sighed once more to behold the happy and peaceful homes they left behind.
All the pleasing anticipation of returning home, to friends, to scenes of their earliest days on which their memories delighted to rest, for these brought recollection of their happiest seasons; these cheered their anguish, and enabled them to bear their misfortune as a mortal, police officer, a Christian and children of the Almighty.
They knew that in their communities, they’d meet many friends. But there were the ones they wished to behold, above all. The ones who have breathed prayers for their safety as they fought a lonely , desperate and losing battle.
These ones are the members of their families.
True confidence family members exuded for them is a beacon light for the SAF officers through the stormy paths they have trodden, and pointed out from the darkness which enveloped them in their try for accomplishment of their desires.
But they were fatally doomed to have their fill of horrors even to loathing, and though they weren’t deficient of the desire to win, to obtain peace, and see the fine Mindanao countryside now lying in waste once more cultivated by a cheerful populace, they would have given up all worldly glory and honor to accomplish it.
Mamasapano, the unholy place where they fell, we will remember.
For it was here where each SAF member knew not the fate of his comrades in whom life still remained but were mercilessly deprived of existence by the marauders.
Many a time, someday, a traveler not from that place will linger, albeit momentarily around the place of incident and think deeply. It is an unpretentious piece of marsh land.
Yet now, there is an unsettling repose about it – that it seems rather the abode of somebody beyond that of earthly beings – the unseen presence of immortals.
The will dwell with us, like the tolling of the bells for the SAF 44, from their dwelling in eternity we hardly know about.