Magalong saddened justice for SAF 44 remains elusive
Mayor Benjamin Magalong called for better leadership in the military to avoid a repeat of the Mamasapano encounter in 2015 that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, of which 14 were Cordillerans.
Magalong said justice for the 44 remain elusive since that fateful day on Jan. 25, 2015 counterterrorism operation of the SAF against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“I am deeply disappointed by the lack of progress in bringing those responsible to justice despite the fact that we were able to craft a very extensive report of the Mamasapano encounter,” Magalong said in his speech during the 8th National Day of Remembrance held at the SAF Memorial Shrine at The Manor at Camp John Hay.
Magalong, who was the former chair of the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry tasked to investigate the botched Oplan Exodus waged against the MILF, said the investigation has been met by political meddling and key witnesses have been intimidated.
“It is unacceptable that those responsible for the deaths of the SAF 44 have not been brought to justice. I call on all those in positions of power and influence to put aside their political considerations and do everything in their power to bring justice to these men. Their sacrifice demands nothing less. The families of the SAF 44, as well as the entire nation, deserve closure and accountability for what happened on that tragic day,” the mayor said.
“The lack of accountability has only served and perpetuated a culture of impunity. I call those in power to set aside their political interests and do everything in their power to bring justice to the families left behind by these brave men,” Magalong added.
Justice, he said, does not only mean finding and punishing the perpetrators, but “it’s about ensuring that such tragic incident, such tragic operation will never happen again. This means implementing necessary reforms and changes to prevent a repetition of the same mistakes.”
The Police Regional Office-Cordillera led the 2023 National Day of Remembrance for the SAF 44, with PRO-Cor Regional Director Police B/Gen. Mafelino Bazar and PNP Area Police Command-North Luzon Deputy Commander Police M/Gen. Oliver Enmodias, together with the families and relatives of the 14 Cordillerans, namely PO2 Peterson Carap of Kabayan, Benguet; PO1 Gringo Cayang-o of Sadanga, Mountain Province; PO1 Angel Kodiamat of Bontoc, Mountain Province; PO2 Jerry Kayob of La Trinidad, Benguet; PO2 Nobel Kiangan of Mankayan, Benguet; PO3 Noel Golocan of Mankayan, Benguet, and Sagada, Mountain Province; PO2 Walner Danao of Irisan, Baguio City; PS/Insp. Gednat Tabdi of La Trinidad, Benguet; PS/Insp. Cyrus Anniban of Balbalan, Kalinga; PO3 Robert Allaga of Banaue, Ifugao; PO2 Franklin Danao of Tinoc, Ifugao; PO2 Nicky de Castro Nacino Jr. of Baguio City and Aurora Province; PO1 Russel Bilog of Tabuk City, Kalinga and Sagada, Mountain Province; and PO2 Joel Dulnuan, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
The mayor said honoring the memory of the SAF heroes means creating a safer, more just and peaceful society.
“The road to peace and security is a long one and it requires the commitment and cooperation of every one and the entire society,” he said. – Jessa Mardy P. Samidan