Wife learned hubby died from mysterious texter
CEBU CITY—Dr. Christine Cempron sent a text message to her husband, PO1 Romeo Cempron, on Sunday night to ask how he was.
He had told her that his team in the elite Special Action Force (SAF) would have a “major operation in Cotabato” province that weekend.
The pediatrician said she received a reply from her husband’s cell phone: “May sasabihin ako sayo Ma’am (I have something to tell you).”
Thinking it was her husband, who loved to joke around, the woman replied “Hon, ano yun? (Honey, what is it)?”
“Kasi yung asawa niyo patay na (Because your husband is already dead),” was the SMS reply from the police officer’s phone.
Christine thought her 33-year-old husband was joking and dialed his mobile phone number.
A man answered and told her what happened to her husband, who was one of the 44 SAF commandos killed on Sunday in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in an encounter with Moro rebels.
“I shouted and told him ‘Hon, huwag kang magbibiro. Hindi nakakatawa (Honey, don’t make a joke. It is not funny).”
But the man on the other line told her: “Pareho lang tayo. Namatayan din kami ng kasama (We are in the same situation. Our comrades also died).”
Then the line went dead.
Frantic, Christine called up the 5th Special Action Battalion based at Camp Abendan in Zamboanga City to confirm what she had been told.
The officer who took her call told her that he had not received any news from Maguindanao.
On Monday morning, Christine read a newspaper account of what happened at Mamasapano.
Christine called her husband’s battalion office. She was told that there had been an encounter but that the names of the fatalities could not yet be released.
At 2 p.m. on Monday, Christine’s sister received a call from a policeman, informing the family that the officer was among those killed in Maguindanao.
Romeo Cempron, a resident of Barangay Tayud in Consolacion, Cebu province, had been in the police service for five years. He had planned to seek reassignment in Cebu.
He and his wife wanted to have a baby after three years of marriage. The wife was scheduled to fly to Zamboanga on Feb. 17 for a post-Valentine date.
“Now, he is gone,” the doctor said before flying on Wednesday to Manila to claim the body of her fallen husband she described as “a friend to everybody” for burial in his hometown.
Christine wants an investigation of the carnage. “We want to find out why. What went wrong? I cannot accept the word encounter. For me, it was an ambush, a massacre.”
She also wants to know the man behind the voice on her husband’s mobile phone, among the many missing items owned by the slaughtered commandos in Mamasapano.