Edelyn and Romeo were married 3 months ago
MANILA, Philippines—Still numb with shock over the sudden and tragic death of her husband, 27-year-old Edelyn Senin sat alone in the front row at the Camp Bagong Diwa gymnasium in Taguig yesterday while she waited for the necrological service for the fallen Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Edelyn and her husband, PO2 Romeo Senin II, were married just three months ago in Iligan City.
He left just over a month after the wedding for an assignment in Zamboanga, she said, explaining that it was very hard for her to accept her husband’s death.
The couple had been planning on having a child when Senin returned from his assignment.
“When I heard about the clash in Maguindanao, I already had a bad feeling about it,” Edelyn said.
Wearing black shirts with the text “We love you, we will miss you,” the grieving parents of PO2 Noel Balaca wept almost throughout the entire service.
Balaca’s father, Noilen, recounted his last moments with his 27-year-old son who spent Christmas with them in their hometown of Oras, Eastern Samar.
“I can still remember him enjoying time with us so it was really painful and hard to accept that he is now gone,” the elder Balaca said.
Seeing the bullet-riddled body of his son who sustained gunshot wounds on his head and neck was just as painful.
“It was very hard for me to see him in that state, especially when I noticed that he had burns on some parts of his body,” the father said.
Balaca’s body will be brought today to Eastern Samar where the rest of his family is waiting for him.
Joining Balaca’s trip home is his best friend, PO2 Rodel Ramacula, who died with him. The two were really close, having been batchmates at the police academy, and treated each other like brothers, said Balaca’s brother, Ronald.
“They seemed inseparable even before and even on the day they died, they were together,” Ronald added.
Did not say enough
In his eulogy, SAF commanding officer Supt. Reynaldo Arino recognized his men’s “unquestionable loyalty” and “respect for human rights” which he said made the officers extraordinary warriors.
“They served their country well and sacrificed their lives for others,” he added.
Families and friends of the slain police officers were allowed to view the fallen commandos in their white caskets draped with the Philippine flag. Tarpaulins with photos and achievements of the 44 officers were placed right next to their coffins.
Concrete specific action
“My family is hoping that concrete and specific actions will be taken by the government to capture the people responsible for the death of my brother,” said Adrian Acob, brother of PO3 Ricardo Acob whose remains were brought to Isabela yesterday afternoon.
Losing a cousin and a fellow police officer was a double loss for Supt. Jerome Afuyog, a policeman assigned in Zamboanga City. Afuyog refused to leave the side of PO1 Angel Kodiamat even after the necrological service, patiently answering the questions of people offering their condolences.
“We have more than 10 police officers in the family and it is really hard for us to lose one this way,” he said, adding that he and Kodiamat were both assigned in Zamboanga but in different divisions.
Reacting to the President’s speech, Afuyog said that he noticed a slight improvement in Mr. Aquino’s pronouncements.
Not just general solutions
“He did mention about going after the terrorist group which my cousin and the SAF officers were after. That for me meant that he is not just mentioning general solutions on the issue but concrete plans of action,” he said.
Though he still wanted to hear more specific statements on how justice will be attained, Afuyog said that a part of the President’s speech gave him some hope in the investigation and inquiry into the death of the SAF commandos.
Calls for justice
Christine Noble, the widow of slain Police Officer 2 Noble Kiangan, called for “action” against the rebels. She was cradling her son when President Aquino stopped by her husband’s coffin, and was unprepared to receive the medal from him.
“We only have one wish: Justice for our husbands,” she told reporters, sobbing.
Violeta Baluga-Birung, sister of PO2 Richelle Baluga, said: “Even before I heard the President’s speech, I only wished justice for my brother.”
PO2 Walner Danao’s uncle, Constancio, said: “They should think of a good solution to the rebellion problem. If it’s a hard solution, so be it. Otherwise, we will continue to lose lives. Pity us who continue to lose our policemen and soldiers to fighting.”