SOME police officials, non-commissioned officers and PNP office staff wore black armbands yesterday to express sympathy to the families of the 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) commandos who were killed last Sunday in Maguindanao.
Flags in PNP offices and stations were raised half-staff since Monday.
Senior Supt. Edward Carranza, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7's directorial staff chief, wrapped a black band around his right arm. “The armband is (to express) sympathy and support for the families of our comrades in arms,” he said.
Senior Supt. Pablo Labra II, Regional Intelligence Division chief, posted on his Facebook account that he and his men also wore black arm bands.
Meanwhile, Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia confirmed yesterday that one of the SAF members who were killed was a resident of his town.
Garcia told radio dyLA that PO2 Windel Candano was the cousin of Meriam Llaño, a town councilor, and was a resident of Barangay Lawaan, Dumanjug.
The wife of another slain SAF member, PO1 Romeo Cempron, has a clinic in Consolacion, Cebu.
In her Facebook account, Dr. Christine Abucay-Cempron thanked those who expressed sympathy to her family. Her husband was among those who were slain by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“To those who knew my husband, Romeo Cempron, it's a very bad day for all of us. My husband passed away. He was one of the PNP-SAF casualties that you've heard in the news. Thanks to all those who sent their condolences,” she wrote. She said that she believes her husband is in a good place.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said that 12 members of the PNP-SAF were also injured during the encounter and 336 were safe.
Christine, a pediatrician, was at the christening of her sister Rhea’s son last Sunday. Around 10 p.m., she sent a text message to her husband to ask about the police operation.
Rhea told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview that Christine received a reply that says, “May sasabihin ako sayo, okay lang ba? Hindi po ito si Romeo kasi yong asawa nyo patay na (I have something to tell you, is it okay? I am not Romeo. Your husband is already dead).”
Rhea said that the sender of the text message did not say if he or she was a rebel or a policeman.
Rhea said that Christine wanted to go to Zamboanga, where SAF's detachment is located but she was convinced by her family to stay calm and wait in Cebu for more news.
Christine and Romeo, a native of Bohol, started their relationship in 2011. Romeo was already a police officer then, said Rhea.
In January 2013, the two wed in civil rites. They had a church wedding on June 22, 2013.
“Romeo was kind to us,” Rhea said in Cebuano. “He was kind and had several friends.”
Romeo and Christine spent Christmas and New Year's Day together. They were planning to meet again on Feb. 17.
Christine hoped that Romeo would be transferred in Cebu. Romeo's assignments in his five years a police officer were in Basilan and Zamboanga.
Christine asked the government to investigate the incident and give justice to her husband and other SAF members.
As of this writing, Romeo's body was still in Cotabato.
The remains of slain police officers will be airlifted to the SAF national headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig before they will be sent to their families.
Rhea said they will bury Romeo in a cemetery in Cebu.
“We will miss him,” she said.
Mayor Garcia said that Llaño sought permission to use the town’s funeral car to transport Candano’s remains from the airport in Lapu-Lapu City to Dumanjug.
In its Facebook account, radio dyLA said Candano called his mother Marciana last Wednesday, a few days before his son Sian Gabriel turned seven, to ask her to send his child to school and help his wife, Michelle.
Llaño said that Candano also called his younger sister Louelyn, a nurse working in London, to ask her to help his wife send his only child to school.
Candano’s son celebrated his birthday last Saturday, a day before the Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident.
Llaño said that the family hoped that Candano was not among those who were killed. But they saw Candano in the Facebook photo of the slain SAF men.
Llaño said a PNP official called Candano’s wife yesterday and confirmed the death of her husband.
The 33-year-old SAF official was married to Michelle who works at Cebu City Post Office. The couple has a house in Deca Homes, Minglanilla.
Windel, eldest of the five siblings, graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He decided to pursue his dream to become a policeman.
Meanwhile, Carranza urged netizens to stop posting photos of the slain SAF men on social media sites. He said some of the photos are gory.