PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday led his men in honoring the 44 Special Action Force commandos who were killed in a secret mission to neutralize Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist Zuklfli bin Hir alias Marwan four years ago.
Joined by PNP-SAF director Chief Superintendent Amado Clifton B. Empiso and National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the PNP chief, himself a former SAF trooper, led the police memorial honors for the Gallant 44 held at the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. Also present in the ceremonies were some orphaned relatives of the SAF heroes.
Presidential Proclamation No. 164 issued by President Duterte on February 21, 2017 declared January 25 of every year as National Day of Remembrance in honor of the 44 SAF officers and men who made the supreme sacrifice while battling heavily-armed local and foreign terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.
Gen. Albayalde recalled how “we lost 44 young, gallant and courageous troopers of the Special Action Force in a cruel and traffic encounter with enemy forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.’ “They accomplished their mission as true blue SAF troopers always do, but this time at the cost of their young lives,” he said.
“It has been four years since the tragedy jolted the national police and the entire nation, but the pain brought by this loss has lingered in our hearts, reminding us every now and then of the great sacrifices being made by our valiant troopers in the line of duty, and above all, of the selflessness of these 44 young men whose bravery and heroism brought great honor and glory not only to the PNP but to the entire nation,” the PNP chief said.
He also expressed his gratitude to the parents, brothers, sisters and wives and children of the slain commandos.
“We know that the pain will linger even longer in the hearts of their families—the parents, spouses and young children they left who had to start life over again without their loved ones. And while no amount of words or tributes may ease the pain in their hearts, we want them to know that the sacrifice of their loved ones will never be in vain,” he said.
“They have become heroes whose deeds now serve to inspire every member of the PNP to fight harder for God and country, and whose gallantry and sacrifice now hold a special chapter in the history of the police service,” Gen. Albayalde said.
Most importantly, he paid tribute to the men and women of the PNP-SAF who continue to live by the ideals of a SAF commando. “I was once a SAF trooper like the rest of you, and I know what lies in the heart of every trooper. For us, no mission is too dangerous to undertake. No trooper ever backs out from an operation, however risky and dangerous it might be,” he remarked.