Cop who saved villagers from blast hailed as hero
INITAO, Misamis Oriental — Still reeling from the grenade explosion that killed two people and wounded 16 others last week, this sleepy town in Misamis Oriental province remembers the policeman who saved people from the blast that could have killed or injured them.
An English graduate who served the police force in the last nine years, Master Sgt. Jason Magno, 46, had trained in basic explosive ordnance disposal, which could have prompted him to cover the grenade with his body in the last moments of his life, according to Brig. Gen. Rolando Anduyan, the Northern Mindanao police chief.
Anduyan said Magno’s body posture while trying to wrest the grenade from one of those killed showed the instinct he developed for years as bomb expert.
He said Magno was trying to protect the people around him by shielding the gernade with his body as he tried to wrest the explosive from the man.
“He was attempting to render the explosive safe. His moves [showed that he] was trying to twist the head of the grenade, where the blasting cap was situated, so that it would not explode,” he said.
Anduyan said he learned from people in Initao town, where Magno grew up and lived, that they used to seek the policeman’s help whenever there was trouble.
Magno’s wife, Vivian, said the incident in Initao was the third time that he had put his life at stake to fulfill his duty as a policeman.
She could no longer remember the year when Magno tried to pacify a retired Scout Ranger involved in a shooting incident at Initao public market.
When protesters staged a blockade in Lugait town, also in Misamis Oriental, Magno was hurt after he was hit by a stone thrown by the mob. Yet he was able to pacify the protesters.
“That was okay because that was part of his work and he came home alive,” Vivian said.
But Magno did not survive the incident at Initao College on Thursday when an angry Ibrahim Bashir, 65, brought a grenade at the town’s city environment and natural resources office (Cenro), where his seized Isuzu forward truck had been kept since March after it was used by its driver to transport lauan logs without permit.
Bashir had removed the grenade pin, prompting the Cenro staff to run to a nearby covered court located within the unfenced Initao College.
A video that circulated after the event showed Magno trying to wrest from Bashir the grenade which eventually exploded.
Anduyan said he would recommend to President Duterte the awarding of the Medal of Valor to the slain policeman.
“It would be good for his family because it carries with it corresponding benefits, including scholarships for his children,” Anduyan said, adding that it was “not every day that a police officer would do a selfless act like what Magno did.”
Bashir’s family appealed to the public not to judge Ibrahim unfairly because he was not in his right mind (he was undergoing dialysis), and that he had been going back and forth to the Cenro office for months asking for the release of his truck.
Humble and kind
Magno’s mother, Princesita, 73, a retired teacher, described her son as “humble, generous and kind.”
“He’s very generous. When someone asked for his help, he was always ready to help,” she said, adding that he had always cared for her.
Magno entered the police force in 2000, on the encouragement of his uncle, also a policeman.
He used to serve the Police Regional Mobile Group in Lanao del Norte province when the fighting between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front there was at its height. —WITH REPORTS FROM GERMELINA LACORTE AND DIVINA SUSON
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