MANILA, PHILIPPINES – President Marcos urges Filipinos to pay tribute to the memory of Special Action Force (SAF 44) commandos who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao del Sur, nine years ago.
Marcos expressed that although the bravery of the deceased commandos cannot be adequately encapsulated through any memorial or praised sufficiently with words, Filipinos can honor them by diligently striving to achieve the aspirations they had for their families, children, fellow comrades, and the nation.
“It is now up to us, who lived and benefitted from their full measure of devotion to duty, to build a kinder and gentler society, wherein those they have left behind can live in peace and prosperity,” Marcos said during the observance of the Day of National Remembrance of the Heroic Sacrifice of the SAF 44 at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite on Thursday, January 25.
Maj. Gen. Rudolph B. Dimas, the Director for Plans of the Philippine National Police (PNP), served as the keynote speaker at the commemoration of the National Day of Remembrance at Camp Simeon Ola. He conveyed the message from PNP Chief Gen. Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. during the event.
“The dedication and courage displayed by the SAF 44 in the face of danger exemplifies the highest ideals of service, patriotism, and sacrifice. The Mamasapano incident stands as a constant reminder of the challenges and risks our law enforcement officers face daily in the pursuit of safeguarding our nation and its citizens,” Dimas said.
Dimas, a former director of the Special Action Force (SAF), emphasized that the legacy of the SAF 44 serves as a lasting source of inspiration, urging continued efforts in the pursuit of justice and peace for the nation.
“We must recognize the importance of unity, coordination, and effective communication in our pursuit of national security. The sacrifices of our heroes must motivate us to strive for excellence in our duty to protect and serve. In their memory let us renew our commitment to strengthening our law enforcement agencies and enhancing operation capabilities and ensuring the support they need to carry out the crucial missions,” he added.
Lt. Col. Chester P. Pomar, a graduate of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Kaisang-Bisig Class 2009 and a close friend (“mistah”) of the late Sr. Insp. Max Jim B. Tria from Catanduanes, who is recognized as the “Last Man Standing” among the SAF 44, shared reflections on his colleague’s outstanding attributes and unwavering commitment.
“Jan. 25, 2015, it was one of the darkest days in the PNP history. It was the saddest day mixed with anger as I watched the news and learned that the three officers among the casualties who led the operations against the international terrorist Marwan were my classmates– Captain Max Jim Tria, Sr., Captain Getnad Tabdi and Captain John Garry Erana. With a heavy heart together with my classmates, (we) silently accepted that they were already gone. Proud of their courage and dedication to serving the nation and the people,” Pomar said.
He expressed gratitude to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for designating the Camp Police Max Jim Ramirez Tria in Barangay Esperanza, Pilar, Sorsogon, as the home of the 50th Maneuver Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion 5.
Former Philippine National Police-Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas Jr. raised concerns about the apparent absence of advancements in holding individuals accountable for the 2015 Mamasapano massacre, which resulted in the loss of 44 SAF troopers.
“Until now, no case has been filed against those who killed them,” Napeñas said.
“They were murdered, massacred, even when they were still alive.” He wondered out loud whether justice would ever be served.
“Do you believe that justice has been served when no cases have been filed against them? They say the peace process is enough, but you be the judge,” he added.
On January 25, 2015, the 44 individuals were part of the SAF commandos assigned to carry out Oplan Exodus in a distant village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The mission aimed to apprehend Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as Marwan, a Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker associated with Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for numerous fatal bombings in the Philippines, and Abdul Basit Usman, a senior figure in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).