DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Exactly three years today, 44 brave members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) sacrificed their lives to serve warrant of arrest against Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan at Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, but up until now justice remain elusive.
In many regions where the fallen heroes were buried, a wreath laying ceremony was held, the ceremony maybe over now but the pain in the hearts of their families lingers–justice is yet to be served .
The highly skilled SAF 44 were deployed to a supposed well planned operation, directed by one person, but turned a massacre killing 44 commandos.
They hit the target – Marwan was killed, while at least 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and seven civilians were killed in the ensuing gun battles.
On November 8, 2017, former president Benigno Aquino III was charged before the Sandiganbayan, over the botched Mamasapano operations.
Aquino was charged for one count each of graft and usurpation of official functions for allowing dismissed police chief Alan Purisima to participate in Oplan Exodus despite his suspension at that time.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales recommended bail for Aquino at P40,000 or P30,000 for graft and P10,000 for usurpation of official functions.
The families want to charge Aquino with 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide, but the Ombudsman junked their appeal.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said charges of graft and usurpation against Aquino were designed to fail. The kin of SAF 44 kin is represented by the VACC.
Charges were also filed in court against former PNP Director General Alan Purisima and SAF Commander Getulio Napeñas.
President Rodrigo Duterte issue Proclamation No. 164, declaring 25 of January every year as “A day of National Remembrance for the heroic sacrifice of the forty-four (44) Uniformed Personnel of the Philippine National Police, Special Action Force”.
On Thursday, some families of the SAF 44 joined police officials joined the ceremonial wreath laying.
In Region XI, the wife SPO1 Loven Inocencio joined PSSupt. Jose Bayani L Gucela, DRDO in the wreath laying at the PRO 11 Bantayog ng mga Pulis Bayani, to mark the three years of the death of her husband.
It has been three years. Many were charged but no one is put behind bars.
When the massacre was still very much talked about, almost every civic and human rights organization joined the call for justice and for the so-called impartial and speedy investigation. But time caught the speed.
Nothing significant happened.
No amount of wreath laying can appease the wounded families crying for justice.
There can never be true commemoration unless justice is served. Yes, their heroism is remembered today-but above all these, justice must be served.