Fallen SAF 44 remembered
Mass, flowers for those who died in Mamasapano encounter and Guihulngan ambush
Three years have passed since the death of her husband, but Dr. Christine Cempron continues to feel the pain of losing a loved one.
“Forever naman gyud tingali ang kasakit. (I think the pain is forever),” said Dr. Christine Cempron, the widow of PO1 Romeo Cempron.
PO1 Cempron, a Danao town in Bohol province native who has made his home in Consolacion town in northern Cebu, was among 44 members of the
Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP SAF), who died during a botched police operation that targeted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman on Jan. 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Those, who died in that Mamasapano encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, were called the fallen SAF 44.
On Thursday, a Mass and a wreath laying ceremony were held at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) to commemorate the the death of the SAF 44.
Fr. Reynaldo Piañar, the chaplain of PRO-7, celebrated the Mass at the police camp’s St. Ignatius Chapel at past 7 a.m. on Thursday.
It was followed by a wreath laying ceremony that was attended by top police officials in the region, Dr. Cempron and families of six policemen, who were killed in a July 2017 ambush staged by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
The PRO-7 band played Francisco Santiago’s “Ang Pilipinas Kong Mahal” as police officials offered a wreath of flowers near the PRO-7 flagpole for those who fell during those two separate encounters.
The six fallen police officers in the Negros Oriental ambush were also conferred posthumous awards — the Medalya ng Kagalingan (Medal of Merit) — by Chief Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag, deputy director for administration of PRO-7.
The awards were received by relatives of the fallen police officers, namely: Supt. Arnel Arpon, city police chief; SPO2 Nicasio Tabilon; PO1 Jesael Ancheta; PO3 Teovic Agusto; PO2 Alvin Bulandres; and PO2 Alfredo Dunque.
Aside from the fallen, two police officers who survived the ambush — PO3 Jordan Balderas and PO2 Jorie Maribao — were also recognized during the ceremony.
Mabanag, in a message, hailed the heroic act of all the policemen, who offered their lives for the country.
“We remember our dead heroes. Their dedication was beyond question. Their commitment and service were exemplary. We will certainly not forget their sacrifices for our nation,” he said.
“We know that the appreciation we give them is not enough to wipe away the sorrow. But their deaths are not in vain. May their legacies inspire us in years to come,” he added.
Senior Supt. Dennis Agustin, deputy director for operations of PRO-7, assured the families of the slain policemen of their continued support and prayers so that justice will be served.
“We will certainly not forget their heroism. They may have fallen but they are not forgotten,” he said.
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