‘There was radio silence, a very long silence’
(Editor’s Note: The following are excerpts from the eulogy of Chief Supt Noli Taliño, Philippine National Police-Special Action Force officer in charge.)
… During that fateful day when Oplan Exodus was launched against Jemaah Islamiyah international terrorist named Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as “Marwan”—and we call him Mike One—the main effort One, composed of the members the 84th SAC, or the Special Action Company, seaborne, sneaked in to their target unnoticed…
Everybody at the TCP or Tactical Command Post was so tense until such time that we received a text message from the operating troops stating “Mike One, bingo.” A joyful moment was felt knowing that the mission was accomplished. And I clearly heard Police Director Getulio Napeñas, “Para sa inyo ito,” meaning, “Para sa bayan…”
Palagi niya sinasabi bago ang operasyon, “Sino ang gagawa kung walang gagawa?” And we did it.
However, during the extraction of troops from the area of operation, they were caught by the breaking of dawn and they had noticed that enemies from a distance were gathering and establishing positions. I, together with General Napeñas and other staff were there at the tactical command post and we were helping each other out thinking on how we could extract the troops who were already engaging the enemies….
I remembered the voice of the radioman of 55th SAC. The main effort too that was pinned down early in the morning and then keep on asking where the support elements are.
He didn’t notice the growing number of armed men around them and now asking for reinforcements as early as 7 in the morning. The support elements could not get in because 55th SAC was practically surrounded. We did send the reinforcements from different approaches, but could not penetrate the bulk of the enemy until about 1 p.m., when that voice was nowhere to be heard. There was radio silence, very long silence.
After the battle, I realized, that that voice will never be heard again. And I know that voice belonged to Ryan, or Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas.
I felt guilty, and I’m sure we have the same feeling with General Napeñas about what happened, and it seems our efforts were not enough to extend the help that they asked for, but we did our best.
Is it worth it? One international terrorist, equivalent to 44 SAF troopers? I am sure, if you will ask them, it is worth it. Dahil mas maraming buhay and maisasalba at maililigtas nung nawala si Marwan.
And we live by our motto: Tagaligtas. In that moment of sorrow I was stunned by the encouraging quote sent to me by our pastor, Oliver Lee, and I quote: “People are always ready to encourage you to give up. Life is too difficult, they say, life is not fair. It hurts too much. But such advice takes into account the omnipotent hand of God. Even though we may not understand why painful and discouraging events happen in our lives, we have the assurance that God has his reasons. Good reasons. Don’t allow anyone to talk you into quitting even though there will be trials. Time after time, you can have the confidence that God is still in control. Don’t quit. Trust Him and keep on going. The day will come when you’ll be glad you did. When you give up on yourself you give up on God.”
Sabi ni General Napeñas, SAF is an organization where good men gather and are always ready to serve. God, country, people, and organization. General Napeñas is a good man, he’s a good leader. We thank him for giving SAF the much-needed leadership. Sana maayos lahat, at makabalik siya.
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