After Mamasapano: SAF 44 widow welcomes baby girl
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – The lights went on and the cameras started rolling.
But Jaden Ranaiah, barely 3 days old, slept soundly in her cot, oblivious to the group of strangers inside the tiny hospital room – a handful of reporters, videographers, photographers, and a Cabinet secretary.
Born on May 5, 2015 at 5.5 pounds, Ranaiah is Senior Police Officer 1* John Lloyd and Raechelle June Sumbilla’s first and only daughter.
Ranaiah’s father was among the 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP SAF) troopers who died on January 25, 2015, during a botched police operation dubbed “Oplan Exodus.”
John Lloyd, a member of the 55th Special Action Company, was supposed to turn 34 on Friday, May 8 – 3 days after his first daughter’s own birth date. He was also supposed to be beside Raechelle when she gave birth.
“Totoo po pala yun, umiiyak ka pala talaga paglabas (It’s true what they say. You tear up once the baby is born),” Raechelle, a public school teacher, told reporters on Thursday, May 8.
It has not been easy for Raechele, who learned about the death of her husband in the middle of her second trimester.
The weeks following the death of at least 64 people in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao were a blur for the Sumbillas and the rest of the families of the fallen cops. They were left with more questions than answers about the top-secret operation.
“Oplan Exodus” saw close to 400 members of the elite SAF enter Mamasapano town to neutralize two top terrorists – Indonesian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan” and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman.
The bloodiest one-day operation in PNP history to date, the clash not only shook the police force but caused a dip in President Benigno Aquino III’s popularity and endangered the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the result of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF.
Families of the murdered SAF troopers – the Sumbillas included – have been and will be receiving different benefits and help from the Philippine government.
The package for those left behind by the elite cops, most of them breadwinners of their families, include pensions, housing, and education plans for their children, among others.
Ranaiah, said Interior Secretary and National Police Commission (Napolcom) chairman Manuel Roxas II, will be assured an education in the years to come, courtesy of the Napolcom. Roxas will be among Ranaiah’s godfathers when she is baptized.
Looking for justice
The anger has somehow subsided for the Sumbillas but if there’s one thing Raechelle wants, it’s for her husband’s “murderers” to face justice.
“Yung sinasabi nila na 90 rebels will be charged? Yun po ang hinihintay namin (The plan to charge 90 rebels for the death of the SAF? That’s what we’re waiting for),” Raechele said.
Various probing bodies – including a team composed of the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecutors Service – at least 90 Mamasapano based-fighters, members of the MILF, its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs) will be charged for the death of the 35 55th SAC.
The names of those who face charges, however, have yet to be made public. (READ: Death of SAF troops 'murder all the way and around')
The MILF has also said they do not plan to turn over their men who were allegedly involved in the death of the SAF troopers. – Rappler.com