Widows, ex SAF chief again seek justice for SAF 44
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Resigned Director Getulio Napeñas of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) again called for justice on behalf of his 44 comrades as the Senate reopens its investigation on the Mamasapano, Maguindanao clash.
Claiming new information on the incident, the Senate will reopen the case on Monday, January 25, exactly a year after the clash.
The reopening of the probe was requested by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who claims to have new evidence and personal knowledge about the operation. When the probe began in February 2015, Enrile was detained inside Camp Crame over the so-called “pork barrel scam.” He was granted bail by the Supreme Court in August 2015.
The former SAF commander attended an advance commemoration activity of the relatives of the 44 fallen SAF men held on Saturday, January 16, at the Ibaloi Park, Baguio City.
Most of the families of the 44 SAF were present in a prayer walk and a commemoration program organized by the widows of the elite cops from the Cordillera region.
“In 2006, two of our elite cops were killed during the counter-terrorism operation against Marwan due to meddling of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” he told relatives of the fallen 44. He said another operation was implemented in 2010 and 2012, but all failed to extract Marwan because the MILF intervened.
The failed operations made the elite cops discreet in planning and preparing for the January 25, 2015 operation in Mamasapano.
Napeñas stressed that the operation was ordered by President Benigno Aquino III, only to leave the SAF men hanging when the bloody clash with the MILF took the life of 44 elite cops.
“Ang operation ay utos ng Presidente tapos binitiwan kami sa ere (It was the President's order but he left us hanging),” the former commander painfully recalled.
Napeñas, who is also running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance party of Vice President Jejomar Binay, shared how, prior to the Mamasapano operation, they even conducted a Cordilleran ritual called “cañao” and prayed for success.
“Some discredited the SAF for the operation, saying we acted for the reward money. But to clarify things, not a single cent was ever given to us,” he said.
He hopes that with the reopening of the investigation in the Senate, the gallant elite cops will be given justice and honor that they deserve.
But for some of the widows of the SAF 44, reopening the investigation will only further their pain from the loss of their loved ones. They said they are already emotionally drained.
Erica, widow of Police Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas from Mindanao, said she has been receiving threats for seeking justice along with other families of the SAF 44.
“Pero 'wag po tayong bibitiw (but let us not give up),” she said.
She said she is trying to live a normal life but deep inside, the pain of losing her husband remains.
Christine, wife of late PO1 Romeo Cempron from the Visayas, called for continued support, particularly from the government, to attain justice.
“Kailangan po nating maging matatag at humugot ng lakas sa isa’t-isa,” Cempron said. (We need to muster fortitude and draw strength from each other.)
The families of Pabalinas and Cempron, along with the other 44 SAF heroes, traveled to Baguio City for the advance tribute. – Rappler.com