Negros cops don mourning bands

SENIOR Supt. Milko Lirazan, police director of Negros Occidental, tapes a black band on the uniform of a police officer as a sign of mourning for the 44 fallen Special Action Force commandos. (Left) A policeman wears a black band on his badge. (Merlinda A. Pedrosa)

THE Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Noppo) and Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) yesterday joined the National Day of Mourning for the deaths of 44 elite Philippine National Police-Special Action Force in Maguindanao by wearing black bands.

Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, director of Noppo, and Senior Supt. Pedrito Escarilla, officer-in-charge of BCPO, yesterday led the taping of black bands across the badges of police personnel under their units.

Lirazan and Escarilla said they received a directive from Police Regional Office-6 requiring all police personnel to wear mourning bands effective January 29.

Both uniformed personnel and non-uniformed personnel (NUP) are required to wear the mourning band for one week, Lirazan said.

He said active police personnel wear the mourning band across their badges while the NUP and retired members of the Philippine National Police don the mourning band on their left arms.

“The wearing of mourning band will show the solemnity of what happened to the victims, and their heroic acts will always be remembered,” Lirazan added.

Lirazan said PNP Academy alumni will wear the mourning band for 40 days.

Chief Insp. Argel Ancheta of BCPO, a former member of SAF, said they
they condemn what happened to their brothers in uniform and they are calling for justice.

Ancheta, a member of SAF from 1994 to 1998, was formerly assigned in Maguindanao where the 44 commandos were killed.

He said they will join the Sympathy and Solidarity Walk for the fallen 44 at 6 a.m. today from Provincial Capitol Lagoon to San Sebastian Cathedral.

Active SAF members in Negros Occidental and former SAF troopers will also take part in the activity.

The Diocese of Bacolod will also spearhead the walk, and Rev. Fr. Felix Pasquin, rector of San Sebastian Cathedral, said a mass will be offered for the victims.

The Church and the community are one in seeking justice for these law enforcers who died in the line of duty, Pasquin said.

“This is a sad incident that happened to the 44 policemen and I hope that justice will be served to them and to their respective families,” he added.

After the mass, 44 white balloons will be released to symbolize the cause for justice to the victims and their families.
Truth Commission pushed

Meanwhile, Senator Teofisto Guingona III is calling for the creation of an independent Truth Commission that will ensure a "thorough and impartial" investigation of the massacre of over 40 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

"While I respect the planned creation of a PNP (Philippine National Police) Board of Inquiry to conduct a probe, I believe that the Maguindanao massacre has far-reaching consequences and implications which make it necessary for an independent commission to do the work.

The massacre struck at the very heart of the nation and of the peace process," Guingona, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, reconciliation, and unification, said.

Forty-four operatives of the elite PNP-Special Action Force perished and dozens other were injured after a supposed "misencounter" with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday.

Guingona wants former Supreme Court chief justices Reynato Puno and
Hilario Davide Sr. and former senator Wigberto Tañada to head the Truth Commission.

"I will ask them to lend their wisdom and sobriety to the search for truth," the senator said.

"I believe that an independent commission alone can help us get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident and to find the answers to the questions the nation is asking," he added. (with reports from Sunnex)
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