CEBU CITY - The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas yesterday paid tribute to the bravery of their fallen comrades from the Guihulngan Police Station in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, who died in a fire-fight against heavily-armed members of the New People's Army on July 21, 2017.
The tribute was part of the National Day of Remembrance yesterday for the heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao three years ago.
“Today, we remember our dead heroes - the SAF 44,” PRO-7 deputy director for Administration, Chief Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag said, in a ceremony yesterday. “At the same time, this National Day of Remembrance will also remind us of our brothers from Guihulngan.”
The six police officers who died in the Negros encounter were posthumously awarded the “Medalya ng Kagalingan,” or the PNP Merit Medal that their wives received on their behalf during the program.
The fallen officers from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office included Supt. Arnel Arpon, chief of police of the Guihulngan PNP at the time of the ambush.
The other policemen killed were Senior Police Officer 2 Mecasio Tabilon, SPO1 Jesael Ancheta, SPO2 Chavic Agosto, and PO2s Alfredo Dunque and Alvin Bulandres.
The “Medalya ng Kagalingan” was also awarded to SPO4 Jerome Bilar, PO3 Jordan Balderas, and PO2 Jorie Maribao, who were wounded during the encounter, “for their exceptionally meritorious and valuable service rendered as they risked their lives in the same gun battle in Negros”.
At the mass and wreath-laying ceremony at Camp Sergio Osmeña early yesterday morning, Mabanag told the widows of the two Cebuano SAF officers who were among the fatalities in Mamasapano, and of the six police casualties in Negros, “We in the PRO-7, under the leadership of Chief Supt. Robert Quenery, will not forget the sacrifices of your husbands, sons, brothers, relatives for the country” .
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared January 25th as a Day of National Remembrance for the SAF 44.
“The honors and the benefits that the government has given you are not enough to assuage our sadness and resentment for their loss. In our hearts, they did not die in vain. We remember them as the best of the best,” Mabanag also said.
Police Supt. Reyman Tolentin, PRO-7 information officer, said there would be no closure to the Mamasapano incident until justice was served to the families of the SAF commandos.
“It is only proper to honor my comrades who died in combat,” Tolentin, a former SAF trooper, said. “We just hope justice will be served, although it is part of our life to die in the line of duty.”
PO2 Windel Candano and PO1 Romeo Cempron were the two Cebuano members of the SAF 44 killed in the bungled operation against terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.*PNA
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