(UPDATED) - The Philippine National Police (PNP) commemorated on Thursday, January 25, the heroism and sacrifice of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were killed in the botched Mamasapano operations exactly three years ago.
Led by newly installed SAF director Noli Taliño, the SAF conducted a simple ceremony which started with a mass offering at the Memorial Park at the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa Taguig City.
Also present during the event were the families of the slain commandos and former SAF director Getulio Napeñas, who led the operation against international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.
Marwan was one of the most wanted terrorists and bomb makers in Southeast Asia, with a $5-million bounty on his head under the Rewards for Justice Program of the US Department of State and a ₱7.4-million reward from the Philippine government.
The SAF troopers neutralized Marwan while Usman was able to elude arrest.
As the commandos pulled out from Marwan’s lair, Moro rebels engaged them in a firefight. Eighteen members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and breakaway faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were also killed.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation no. 164 which declares January 25 as the "National Remembrance for the Heroic Sacrifice of the SAF 44" that serves as "a constant reminder of the continuing sacrifices being made by our valiant uniformed men and women of the PNP."
He had also vowed that justice will be attained for the SAF44 under his watch.
A day after the President met with the bereaved families, the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against Napenas and then PNP chief Alan Purisima while charges of graft and usurpation of authority were filed against former President Benigno Aquino III were file a month later.
Julie Cayang-o, wife of one of the 44 SAF commandos, said they are now optimistic that justice will soon be in their hands.
"It's almost 3 years from now, and for the past years, we feel that hope is not really coming to us. But presently, when President Rodrigo Duterte had finally sat on that powerful throne, we now feel that we are able now to see the sun shining upon us," she said.
"We believe that step by step, I see that the perfect day will come and punish those people involved in that unacceptable day," she added. (SunStar Philippines)