SEVERAL family members of the 44 elite troops from the Special Action Force (SAF) did not show up for the awarding ceremony for the slain police commandos in Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday, the first anniversary of the Mamasapano massacre.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd led the awarding of honors and medals for the police commandos who were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindana, on January 25, 2015 while on an operation to capture Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and two others.
When the President was to award the Medalya ng Kabayanihan for Police Officer 2 Ricky
Nacino, Senior Police Officer Lover Inocencio and Insp. Rennie Tyrus, no one stood up to receive the medals.
It was also noticeable that the classmates of Senior Insp. Jim Tria and Police Officer 2 Franklin Danao were the ones who received their medals from the President, who is blamed by many for the death of the SAF troops.
The wife of Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas, Ericka, was also a no-show. Instead, Pabalinas’ father and brother accepted the medals from Aquino.
The immediate family of Insp. John Garry Erania also did not attend the ceremony.
Erania’s uncle went up the stage to receive the Medalya ng Kabayanihan.
In all, 47 SAF members were given the Medalya ng Kabayanihan (Distinguished Conduct Medal), the second highest honor given by the police and military.
Two of the fallen commandos were posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest honor in the police and military service — Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron.
Tabdi’s wife Leah and brother received the medal while Cempron’s medal was handed to his wife Christine.
Aquino admitted that he himself is dismayed with the delay of the case.
“Ako man po ay naiinip sa bagal ng pag-usad ng sistemang pangkatarungan sa ating bansa. Ika nga, justice delayed is justice denied [I am also becoming impatient with the proceedings of our justice system. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied],” he said in his speech.
“The question is why, until now, those who are guilty have not been made accountable,” Aquino added.
Lawmakers earlier urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up preliminary investigation and file cases against those responsible for the massacre of the SAF 44.
Last year, the DOJ filed complaints of direct assault with murder against 90 people supposedly involved in the encounter.
It, however, is yet to rule on whether there is probable cause to file criminal charges against them in court.
In his speech, Aquino lauded the heroic acts of the SAF troops, especially Tabdi and Cempron.
He said Tabdi served as a “source of strength and inspiration” while Cempron showed courage in his attempt to save the lives of his fellow commandos.
“Hanggang sa dulo hindi sya sumuko. Iniharang nya ang katawan sa mga bala upang makaligtas ang mga kasamahan [Until the very end he did not give up. He used his own body to block the enemies’ bullets in order to save his comrades],” Aquino added.
He met privately with the families of slain SAF troops after the awarding. But not all of the SAF 44 were represented.
The President reiterated that their families will be taken care of and will benefit from livelihood and employment assistance.