THE 205,000-strong Philippine National Police yesterday commemorated the 5th anniversary of the Mamasapano massacre on January 25, 2015 of 44 gallant commandos of the PNP Special Action Force involved in a heroic effort to get Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar told the crowd during the memorial rites for the SAF 44 at the PNP-SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa that the “bravery of the Gallant 44 won’t be forgotten” as PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa had made sure of the PNP’s continued support for the slain heroes, their families and the PNP-SAF as well.
“Our beloved President Rodrigo Roa Duterte did his part in honoring our SAF 44 heroes by giving what is due to them -- by making all of them recipients of the coveted Medalya ng Kagitingan or Medal of Valor. Gen. Gamboa is also fully behind the Gallant 44 and their families and colleagues.
“On our part, let us honor and give justice to our SAF 44 heroes by emulating the courage they displayed and the heroism that they showed. Let us honor them with the stories of courage and heroism that we must tell to the generations to come. Let us honor our SAF 44 heroes by being like them,” said Eleazar during the solemn ceremony at the SAF headquarters attended by SAF commander Major Gen. Amando Clifton B. Empiso, his men and relatives of the fallen commandos.
Eleazar compared the bravery of the Gallant 44 to the warriors depicted in Homer’s Iliad led by Achilles.
“Allow me then to immortalize the heroic deeds of our SAF 44 through their story that hopefully you would untiringly tell and retell to your children and grandchildren in honor of our fallen brothers,” he added.
He referred to the group of SAF commandos who were called on a mission to penetrate an enemy stronghold in a remote area of Mamasapano in Maguindanao to bring justice to the Muslim and Christian civilians who died from the bombs made by international terrorist Marwan.
“An impossible task in the sense that there is only one way in and one way out from a fully-armed community with the mentality of killing outsiders who would dare to cross their paths. An impossible task in the sense that those police commandos had limited firepower and resources to ensure their safety,” he said.
Eleazar added that the PNP-SAF succeeded in their impossible mission but with a price.
“At the conclusion of the mission, the worse fear of that operation turning into a suicide mission happened when the entire community was alerted of the SAF presence,” he said.
Eleazar paid tribute to the slain commandos who, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, stood their ground and fough valiantly hoping that help would come later.
“That hope did not come but it did not dampen their spirit, instead, it only emboldened them to go on, to fight to the last breath,” he added.
“All of a sudden, every bullet counts in taking out enemy; all of a sudden, every blood spilled only motivated them to fight back; and yes, all of a sudden, they spelled out the real meaning of bravery. Up to their last breath, our 44 fallen heroes showed the enemy what they are capable of, of what they were trained to do, and what SAF commandos are made of,” the PNP’s no. 3 official said.
Eleazar said that the SAF 44 did not die in vain.
“Had it not for them, Marwan would have mobilized more extremist to terrorize the Filipino people. Had it not for their ultimate sacrifice, more innocent civilians would have killed by their bombs,” he said.
A Day of National Remembrance for the Gallant 44 was held in different PNP camps nationwide.