Aquino meets Mamasapano SAF troopers in private
MANILA, Philippines — More than a month after 44 of their comrades were killed in a bloody clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers again met with President Benigno Aquino III.
Thirty minutes before the turnover of command to the new SAF Director Moro Virgilio Lazo at Camp Bagong Diwa, Aquino met with the troopers in private. Accompanying him were the PNP-SAF Command Group and Company Batallion Commanders and other PNP officials.
Lazo replaced Getulio Napenas who was relieved after the botched Mamasapano operation, which succeeded in neutralizing international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF troopers, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and at least five civilians.
While Aquino has repeatedly told the families of the slain SAF troopers that he will ensure full support of the government, some of the relatives have expressed disappointment.
Aquino received flak for not attending the arrival honors of the 44 SAF at Villamor Airbase and for his speech at the necrological services in Camp Bagong Diwa. The relatives said they did not feel that the President was sincere in his speech and was not doing enough to seek justice for the slain policemen.
Aquino, however, attempted to reach out to the families by meeting with each of them for 13 hours after the necrological services. He also met with the SAF survivors but video footage of his speech that night seemed to show the troopers as unresponsive.
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