Statuette fell from table of dead SAF’s family in Benguet
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Sunday was an ominous day for Garcia and Edna Tabdi, both farmers from La Trinidad in Benguet province.
At 6 p.m., a heavy shako (feathered cap) statuette fell from a table in the family’s living room. The token belonged to their son, Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi, who received it as a keepsake when he graduated from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in 2009.
The family was devastated when they received a phone call from the Philippine National Police at past 6 p.m. on Sunday, telling them that Tabdi was one of the policemen involved in a clash with Moro rebels in Maguindanao province, the Tabdis’ youngest son, Maiko, said.
On Monday, the PNP confirmed that Tabdi, 27, was killed in the battle.
Edna lost consciousness and has been in a hospital since then, her husband by her side.
Reports about the clash have been sketchy.
“What I could discern from the telephone conversation with my parents was that my brother and his fellow police officers were surrounded when they lost their lives,” Maiko said.
He said two members of his brother’s PNPA “Kapit-Bisig” Class of 2009 were also killed. They were Senior Insp. Garry Erana of Zamboanga City and another police officer from Catanduanes province.
He said Tabdi’s constant companion was PO2 Peterson Carap, who was reported to be among the fatalities.
Marry, build a family
Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, Cordillera regional police director, said his office had not determined who among the policemen killed were from the Cordillera.
Various accounts claimed that at least 12 of the slain policemen were from the Cordillera. Tabdi was the first confirmed fatality from the region.
It was a poignant death for Gednat Tabdi, Maiko said. His brother survived the Zamboanga siege in 2013 when Moro rebels tried to take over Zamboanga City.
Assigned to Zamboanga at the time, Tabdi had very clear goals in mind: To marry and build a family.
“[My brother] was affected that many of his friends had died in the siege,” Maiko said.
Tabdi married Leah Mefranum, 24, a nurse from Basilan province. Mefranum is five months pregnant.
Tabdi was the third of six boys. Three of them also joined the police. Shagar, the second son, is also a member of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), like Gednat.
The other brothers, Alchin and Rogdan, are training in Laguna province. The eldest brother, Oliver, is an information technology graduate.
A college student, Maiko said his brother’s heroism had convinced him to join the PNP.
“I will join the PNPA and try to get into the SAF. Gednat encouraged me and it is my childhood dream,” he said.
Tabdi enrolled at the PNPA at 17 and graduated at 21.
Ryan Mangusan, an aide of Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, was Tabdi’s classmate at Benguet State University Secondary Laboratory School. Mangusan said Gednat was quiet and reserved.
“He was enrolled in veterinary medicine. But in 2005, he took the exams for the PNPA and he passed,” Mangusan said.–With reports from EV Espiritu and Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon