‘Aquino as commander-in-chief could have saved 44 SAF men’ | Inquirer News

‘Aquino as commander-in-chief could have saved 44 SAF men’

… Wife of slain SAF commando Joey Gamutan: Why didn’t President send reinforcement?
/ 10:16 PM February 01, 2015

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – In life and in death, Insp. Joey Gamutan, one the 44 Special Action Force troops killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, was “abandoned” by those he expected to take care of him.

His mother died when he was still a baby. His father remarried and left him in the care of relatives in Isabela City in Basilan. At a young age, he lost his grandmother, who served as his guardian.


“He did not experience his mother’s love, neither his father’s. And when they faced the enemy in Maguindanao, he did not feel the protection of the father of the nation,” Gamutan’s wife Merlyn said.

Merlyn, a social worker, said until his last breath, her husband was deprived of the attention from the government that he “swore to serve.”


President Aquino was in Zamboanga City the day when the police’s Special Action Force operated in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

A big number of police commandos sent in Maguindanao were from 5th SAF Battalion based here.

Amid reports that Aquino did not order military support for the police commandos when he could have, Merlyn rued the fact that the President could have saved the 44 SAF men if only he used his power to send the badly needed reinforcement.

“Everything was and is at his disposal, he could have saved lives even if he was in Malacañang,” Merlyn said.

“Hindi masama magpadala ng reinforcement lalung-lalo na’t tinitingala syang ama ng mga SAF dahil sya ang Commander-in-Chief (There would have been nothing wrong if he had sent reinforcements because the SAF men looked up to him as the Commander-in-Chief,” she added.

Merlyn said when she met with the President, she just listened to him talk “out of respect.”

“It was more of a repetition of what he said during the necrological service. Same thing, he talked about the death of his father and how they were also devastated,” she said.


Merlyn said her husband was a fighter all his life. “He was fighting for a mother’s love, a father’s attention and fighting poverty.”

After his grandmother died while he was in grade school, Gamutan was forced to live and stay with other relatives, doing odd jobs until he finished college.

“As a social worker, I can feel how hard his life was. He refused to talk about it. He kept telling me that he will not allow his children to suffer the same fate he had. In fact, one of his dreams was to see our children going to a private school,” Merlyn said.

Merlyn said it would have been easier for them to accept the death of 44 SAF “if they died in a simple encounter.”

Merlyn said her husband suffered mutilation. “He was not only hit by bullets. His body had hack wounds. His head almost fell off,” she said.

Another SAF officer, who asked not to be named, told the INQUIRER that a slain officer’s head has not been found.

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TAGS: abandonment, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, commander-in-chief, Joey Gamutan, Merlyn Gamutan, Mourning, News, Philippine National Police, Philippine president, PNP‎, Profile, Regions, remembrance, SAF, Special Action Force
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