The Philippine National Police (PNP) commemorates on Tuesday the gallant sacrifice of fallen 44 PNP-SAF commandos, who died seven years ago during an anti-terrorism operation dubbed Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, one of the most unforgettable and devastating incidents in the history of police service.
The observance of the national day of remembrance is pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 164, issued by President Rodrigo R Duterte, declaring January 25 of every year as a day of National Remembrance in honor of the heroic death of the 44 PNP-SAF elite troopers. With this proclamation, the nation honor’s the memory of their noble deeds and acts of valor that will serve as a constant reminder of the continuing sacrifices made by our valiant uniformed men and women in the line of duty.
This year, as a tribute to the SAF 44’s gallantry for our country, a National Day of Remembrance was held at Special Action Force Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City. The commemoration activity was graced by Secretary of Justice Menardo I Guevarra as the Guest of Honor and Speaker and attended by PNP high-ranking officers led by the Chief the PNP, Police General Dionardo B Carlos, and SAF 44 families.
The solemn activity commenced with the Eucharistic mass officiated by Rev Fr. Police Colonel Arnulfo A Castillo, Chaplain Service, NCRPO followed by the offering of flowers to the SAF 44 Memorial during the Wreath-Laying Ceremony.
“To the families, they left behind, they were sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. To the people and country they served, they were and are heroes whose devotion to the nation proves more powerful than death itself. The plight of these 44 heroes is a story ink in history and etched in our collective memory”, Secretary Guevarra said in his message.
In line with this year’s commemoration theme, “The Dedication and Sacrifice of the Men of Valor is the Pinnacle of Patriotism, Guevarra said that the death of SAF 44 gave birth to heroes whom this nation is and will forever be indebted to. “They paid the highest cost for the priceless gift that we enjoy today, the gift of living with peace and liberty far from harm and free from fear”, he added.
In a separate statement, Chief PNP, Police General Carlos, paid tribute to the bravery of the SAF 44, he said, “Never again we are going to allow history to repeat itself. The tragic loss of SAF 44 is a lesson learned we must not forget. Their lives are irreplaceable. Like generations of warrior heroes before them, our SAF 44 gave everything they had, not for glory, nor for any gratitude, but for something greater than themselves”.
Along with the memory of SAF 44 fallen heroes, the PNP also commemorates the lives of 126 PNP front liners who unfortunately succumbed and did not survive the coronavirus disease.
In a separate activity, a wreath-laying ceremony led by Police Lieutenant General Joselito Vera Cruz, The Deputy Chief PNP for Administration together with Police Major General Rhoderick Armamento, Director, Information Technology Management System was also held at Bantayog ng mga Bayaning Tagapamayapa at Camp Crame in the morning of the same day.