SAF 44 Heroes remembered

BAGUIO CITY – Widows and family members of the 44 Special Action Force heroes from the different parts of the country felt that their fallen loved ones were given full honors as heroes with their first death anniversary commemoration in the Cordillera region last January 16.

Merlyn Gamutan, widow of PSI Joey Gamutan from Basilan, said she was surprised of the way the Cordillerans accorded such heroic tribute to the police officers who died for the country.

“It’s only here that we see how people treat the SAF 44 as heroes,” Gamutan said emotionally during the commemoration activities held in Baguio City and Benguet last week.

Several days before the first year anniversary commemoration of the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident, the families of the 13 Cordilleran SAF heroes, the Cordillera Heritage Foundation and a businesswoman in Baguio City who refused to be identified, hosted a two-day commemoration in Baguio City and Benguet. At least 37 families of the SAF 44 were represented during January 15-16 events.

The activities kicked off with a candle lighting ceremony evening of Jan. 15 where the families offered prayers as they float candles and flowers at the Burnham Lake.

The next day, there was a prayer walk from Session Road to the Ibaloi Park in Burnham Park for a program that started with Cordillera rituals to appease the gods. The families also got a chance to experience the boodle fight which most of them said were only stories they heard from the SAF troopers.

The commemoration was capped by “tree-bute” in Badiwan, Tuba, and Benguet. The tree-bute is a project of the Cordillera Heritage Foundation where individuals can plant and dedicate a tree for their loved ones as a living commemoration.

By dedicating the trees to their dead loved ones, the organizers hope that the relatives who planted the trees will take care of them with love and care as they took care of their dearly departed.

The tree-bute site in Badiwan was originally allotted to the Cordillera SAF families when it started on March 15, 2015 after the Mamasapano incident. This was shared on social media which inspired the other families to join

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office – Cordillera(PRO-Cor) honored their fallen comrades during the celebration of the 25th Founding Anniversary and Ethics Day of the Philippine National Police on January 25, which also coincided with the first year anniversary of the Mamasapano encounter that killed 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force(SAF).

PRO-Cor officials led by Police Chief Superintendent Robert Quenery, Deputy Regional Director for Administration, together with the widows, children, parents and relatives of the 13 Cordilleran of the Gallant SAF 44 led the wreath laying ceremony at the Heroes Monument in at the regional police headquarters in Camp Dangwa, here to honor and recognize the heroism of the Cordilleran troopers.

There was also a tree planting ceremony symbolizing unity, hope and encouragement that life must go on and that the legacy of these brave men serves as inspiration.

Quenery said the gallantry and bravery of these heroes won’t be in vain because they will always be remembered and will be continued for this nation’s peace.

He also extended his appreciation and gratitude to all the uniformed men and women who have served with distinction in law enforcement and public safety.

Wreath laying ceremony was also held for PO2 Franklin Danao at Proper Binablayan, Tinoc, Ifugao led by his family members and the Tinoc Municipal Police Office.

In Kabayan, Benguet, the municipal government declared January 25 as Peterson Carap Day in memory and recognition of the heroism of their son.

The family of Police Senior Inspector Gednat Tabdi also had ‘dao-es’ , a cleansing ritual , with the butchering of a cow and several pigs at their residence in Buyagan, La Trinidad, Benguet./(JDP/ RMC/ Jillie Ominga, Abi Clemente, Jillie Ominga, and Via Perez-PIA/UC Interns)


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