June 22, 2024

The Police Regional Office-Cordillera led the commemoration of the gallantry and heroism of the 44 Special Action Force members at the SAF 44 Memorial Site in Camp John Hay on Jan. 25.
This day marks the sixth year death anniversary of the 44 Philippine National Police-SAF troopers, 14 of them Cordillerans, who sacrificed their lives in the botched operation dubbed as Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano, Maguindanao to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared Jan. 25 of every year as “A Day of National Remembrance for the 44 SAF.”
“The nation honors the memory of our gallant SAF 44 whose heroism is constant reminder of the continuing sacrifice being made by our comrades in uniform. Let us not forget to pray for the eternal repose of their souls,  and always be reminded that our visions is strengthened by the sacrifice of our SAF 44 heroes in their quest for excellence to exemplify the real meaning of service honor and justice,” PRO-Cor Deputy Regional Director for Administration, B/Gen. Lawrence Coop said in his message. 
In his keynote message, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong remembered the sacrifices of the SAF 44 and stressed that the incidents leading to their death should never happen again.
“The SAF 44 should remind people that no one deserves to be a useless sacrifice in the name of expediency.” 
“In honor of the SAF 44, let everyone serving the people be reminded never to allow erring policy decisions to happen again. Let no foot soldiers ever serve as sacrifice at the needless expense of life itself. Never again should police operations be done in disregard of tried and tested coordination practices,” said Magalong who headed the investigation panel as then head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
“Para sa atin dito sa Baguio at sa Cordillera, ang araw na ito ay kailanman hindi makakalimutan. Labing-apat sa SAF 44 ay mga taga-Cordillera na nagbuwis ng buhay bilang tugon sa tawag ng serbisyong kanilang sinumpaang gampanan sa abot ng kanilang makakaya, kahit na ang ialay ay ang kanilang buhay mapagsilbihan lamang ang bansang minamahal,” Magalong added.
The 14 SAF members from the Cordillera were PSI Gednat Tabdi of La Trinidad, PO2 Peterson Carap of Kabayan, PO2 Jerry Kayob of La Trinidad, and  PO2 Nobel Kiangan of Mankayan, all of Benguet and PO3 Noel Golocan of Mankayan, Benguet and Sagada, Mountain Province; PO1 Gringo Cayang-o of Sadanga, PO1 Angel Kodiamat of Bontoc, Mountain Province; Sr./Insp. Cyrus Anniban of Balbalan and PO1 Russel Bilog of Tabuk City, Kalinga; PO3 Robert Allaga of Banaue, PO2 Franklin Danao of Tinoc, Ifugao, and PO2 Joel Dulnuan of Kiangan, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya; PO2 Walner Danao of Irisan, Baguio City; and PO2 Nicky de Castro Nacino, Jr. of Baguio City and Aurora.
Edna Tabdi, mother of the late SAF trooper Tabdi, asked the mothers and wives of the SAF not to forget the heroism of their sons and husbands and pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
“To all mothers of the SAF heroes, we still have the love of our children. I hope that we should pass on the memories of our heroes to our children and our grandchildren. And to the widows, I hope that your children left by your husbands should always live by the heroism of their fathers who sacrificed their lives for the country. They sacrificed their lives so that more will have better lives,” Tabdi said.
The commemoration program was capped by a wreath laying ceremony led by former PNP-SAF Director and now PNP Director for Intelligence, M/Gen. Amando Clifton Empiso; PNP Director for Operations, M/Gen. Alfred Corpus; Lt./Col. Melchor Buaquen, PNP SAF 14 SAB Commander; PRO-Cor Regional Director, B/Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan; Magalong; The Manor Hotel Manager Ramon Cabrera; and Mrs. Tabdi representing the SAF families.  
In Mankayan, the local government unit led by Mayor Frenzel Ayong with officials and representatives from the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Lepanto National High School (LNHS), police officers from Mankayan and Buguias, and family members of the SAF heroes also held a commemoration program to honor the three alumni of the LNHS who were among the SAF heroes. – Redjie M. Cawis