Calls for justice for the 44 fallen members of the Special Action Force (SAF) grow louder as Malacanang implements a National Day of Mourning.
Members of the Philippine National Police marched for justice while government officials wore black armbands as probe on the brutal slay of the SAF men continues. As part of National Day of Mourning, flags at all public and military institutions are also at half-mast.
At least 44 policemen perished in what authorities said was a "misencounter" with alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom fighters at Mamasapano, Maguindanao while chasing high-ranking terrorists Zulkifli Abdhir and Basit Usman.
During the necrological services at Camp Bagong Diwa, commanding officers tell of the perils of being part of the elite force and vowed to never forget slain policemen’s sacrifice.
Colonel Danilo Pamonag of the Philippine army said the fallen 44 "will never be just a number; you will always be our comrades.”
“We know of three constants: Victory. Defeat. Death. For both sides, death is a constant. Such is our life in the pursuit of peace. We don’t claim to be fearless, we can only stand courageous,” Pamonag added.
Chief Inspector Victor Lacwasan of SAF meanwhile recalled meeting some of the slain young men and proudly introduced SAF.
"Kami po ang inyong SAF. Marami pong salamat sa inyong pakikidalamhati at maraming salamat sa inyong pagmamahal."
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who drew flak Thursday for skipping the arrival honors for the fallen heroes at Villamor Air base to attend a car plant opening in Sta. Rosa, was also at the necrological services. He however arrived late.
Aquino approached each casket, offered prayers, and presented a Medal of Valor, the highest military honor, to the widows and relatives of the slain SAF men.
Also at the necrological services were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP Deputy Director Leonardo Espina. Some of Aquino’s sisters were also seen.
Filipinos, young and old, took to Twitter to offer their condolences for the bereaved families.
— Xander Christopher (@XanderCristofer) January 30, 2015
For our tomorrow, the #Fallen44 gave their today. We should come not only to mourn our dead commandos, but to praise them. RIP.
— dudeinterrupted (@dudeinterrupted) January 30, 2015