SAF44 remembered in Cebu mass, wreath-laying

CEBU CITY–A Mass and a wreath-laying were held at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) on Thursday to commemorate the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members killed during a clash with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.

Dr. Christine Cempron, widow of PO1 Romeo Cempron, said the pain had not died down three years after the incident.

“Forever naman gyud tingali ang kasakit. (I think the pain is forever),” she told reporters after the ceremony at the quadrangle of PRO-7.

PO1 Cempron was a native of Danao town, Bohol province who made his home in Consolacion town, Cebu.

Cempron and Cebuano PO1 Romeo Cempron were among the 44 SAF troops who died during a botched police operation that targeted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman.

Fr. Reynaldo Piañar, chaplain of PRO-7, presided over the Mass at the police camp’s St. Ignatius Chapel past 7 a.m. on Thursday.

It was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony attended by police officials in the region, Dr. Cempron and the families of six policemen killed in an ambush by the New People’s Army in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental in July 2017.

The PRO-7 band played Francisco Santiago’s Ang Pilipinas Kong Mahal as police officials offered a wreath of flowers near the PRO-7 flag pole.

Chief Superintendent Franklin Moises Mabanag, deputy director for administration of PRO-7, posthumously conferred the Medalya ng Kagalingan (Medal or Merit) on the parents of Superintendent Arnel Arpon, city police chief; SPO2 Nicasio Tabilon; PO1 Jesael Ancheta; PO3 Teovic Agusto; PO2 Alvin Bulandres; and PO2 Alfredo Dunque.

Two policemen who survived the ambush—PO3 Jordan Balderas and PO2 Jorie Maribao—were also recognized during the ceremony.

Mabanag, in a message, hailed the heroic acts of all 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 Superintendent 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 would be served.

“We will certainly not forget their heroism. They may have fallen but not forgotten,” he said.#

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