Kin of slain SAF trooper avoids eye contact with P-Noy

By: Carmel Loise Matus January 28,2016 - 11:14 PM

Winson Candano didn’t dare look at President Aquino when he received the award on behalf of his brother, slain Special Action Force (SAF) member.

He was apprehensive that his eyes might betray his thoughts and yearning to ask Mr. Aquino who should be blamed for his brother’s death.

“I didn’t look at him. I just shook his hand. Until now, we don’t know what exactly happened on that fateful day,” he told the Inquirer.

Winson’s brother, PO1 Windel Candano, was one of the 44 Special Action Forces policemen who were killed on Jan. 25, 2015 in “Oplan Exodus,” the operation to take down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

Exactly a year later, President Aquino conferred the highest military awards—the Medal of Valor and the Medal of Distinguished Conduct—to the SAF policemen at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Winson received the posthumous awards on behalf of his brother, with mixed emotions. “I was both happy and sad,” he said.  “The award cannot bring back my brother’s life.”

Winson said he didn’t attend the private meeting with President Aquino but left immediately after receiving the certificate and medal.

He said he didn’t want to miss his flight back to Cebu so he could join the family in remembering Windel.

Windel’s widow, Michelle Candano, chose to stay in Cebu to attend to  the preparations for her husband’s death anniversary.

The family attended Mass offered for Windel at the Cebu South Memorial Garden in Talisay City, about 12 kilometers south of Cebu City where he is buried. Michelle said she was proud of the award given to her husband.

“But at the same time, I am sad. He’s dead (when) that award was given. But I know he died with honor and pride,” she said.

Michelle said she has never stopped in her quest for justice for her husband.

Her only hope is that the reopening of the Senate inquiry on Mamasapano would not be tainted by politics.

“I don’t know what their intention is because we all know it’s all about politics. But we are still happy because at least they have reopened the case,” she said.

Both Michelle and Winson said they were not satisfied by the outcome of the previous investigations.

Winson said there was still no closure because their family didn’t have the answer to their question: Who should be blamed for the botched operation?

“I am in favor of reopening the case but the investigation is so slow. I think there was no result in the previous investigations,” he said.

Winson said the family was still coping with the loss of Windel although they are slowly coming to terms with it. Michelle admitted that it was difficult to move on but she had to be strong for her son, Sian Gabrielle, 8.

A relative of another slain SAF policeman welcomed the reopening of the Mamasapano investigation with caution.

Myrna Bedua, an aunt of PO2 Glen Bedua from Dulag town in Leyte province, said justice remained elusive for the fallen SAF 44.

“If the reopening would give justice for the SAF 44, then we welcome it. After all, what we all wanted is justice for them,” Myrna said in a phone interview.

“But if the reopening will be only for political purposes, then it is useless. It will only remind us, families and relatives of the SAF 44, of their gruesome deaths and the elusive justice that we have been waiting for all this time,” she added.

Bedua also said that apart from the financial assistance received by her nephew, Adie, from the government, other “promises” made by the government have yet to be fulfilled.

The family of Bedua has not received the promised livelihood assistance.

“Personnel from the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) visited their house in Barangay San Jose and promised to give them livelihood assistance but up to now, it is still a promise to be fulfilled,” she added./With Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas

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TAGS: Maguindanao, Mamasapano, President Aquino, Special Action Force

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