Año thanks fallen cops for serving the people
MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing Interior Secretary Eduardo Año thanked fallen police officers on Monday for serving the people, stressing that it showed how sincere the Philippine National Police (PNP) was in carrying out its mandate.
At least 435 police officers died in the line of service under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Año said during the “Awarding of PNP Personnel with Significant Achievements” in Camp Crame, where he was the guest of honor.
Of the officers who died, 56 were in the war against illegal drugs, 160 in other anti-crime campaigns, 91 in counter-insurgency operations, and 128 in their COVID-19 response.
“Indeed, these are inspiring stories and remarkable showing of boundless gallantry, outstanding service to the people, and hard-earned trust, and confidence. Despite the watchful eye of the public, you continue to show how sincere, hardworking, and determined you are in your sworn duties and responsibilities,” Año said.
“You did not let yourselves be defeated by any challenge hurled at you. On the contrary, these were what pushed you to keep on drawing strength and inspiration so that you can improve your service to our countrymen,” he said, speaking now in Filipino.
Año mentioned some stories of fallen officers, in particular, that of Senior Master Sgt. Jason Magno, who died after covering an exploding grenade to protect people at the Initao Community College in Misamis Oriental, and Capt. Efren Espanto, who was killed in a clash with communist rebels.
“Magno’s bravery is a story like no other as he showed his willingness to save many others — even if he knew that such an act would take his own life,” Año said.
Año also mentioned the killing of Senior Master Sgt. Conrado Cabigao Jr., who died in a controversial anti-drug sting in Rodriguez, Rizal last 2019 — an operation that led to the death of a four-year-old girl.
An initial probe of that incident showed that the bullet that killed the child came from Cabigao’s gun.
“Magno, Cabigao, and Espanto are just three among the 307 fallen troops who sacrificed their lives in the name of public service — 56 of them were killed in the anti-drug war, 160 in anti-criminality campaigns, while the other 91 succumbed in their counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism drives,” Año noted.
“And in carrying out their duties, 128 PNP personnel died of COVID-19 while manning our isolation facilities, checkpoints, mobile checkpoints, and even helping our countrymen afflicted with COVID-19,” he added.
During Duterte’s term, the entire PNP has been scrutinized due to the implementation of various programs like the drug war and the anti-communist campaign — which human rights defenders have deemed to be bloody and harmful.
Several activists have claimed that such programs are being weaponized to attack critics of the government and those expressing legitimate dissent.
Duterte has defended the PNP several times, saying that the police also need to protect themselves while in the line of duty.
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