84th SAC troopers to AFP extraction team: We might die here
“Buti nandito na kayo. Baka dito na kami mamatay (It is a good thing that you are here. We might die here).”
That was the remark of some members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC) when 2nd Lt. Gabriel Bannoya Jr. of the 61st Division Reconnaissance Company arrived to extract dead and wounded SAF troopers at Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Bannoya was one of the resource speakers during the third hearing of the House of Representatives on the Mamasapano incident on Wednesday.
He said that when his team reached the 84th SAC at 11:30 p.m. of Jan. 24, some troopers thought that they were the reinforcement troops sent.
“Nung pumasok na kami sa area, ang unang bumungad sa akin, ‘Sir, buti na lang nandito kayo. Baka dito na kami mamamatay.’
“From that point on, nabigyan sila ng buhay na ang tingin nila sa amin, isa pang unit. Noong sinasabi nila na dito kami mamamatay, dine-declare nila na hindi na sila magma-maneuver,” he said.
The 84th SAC troopers told Bannoya that they could not leave the area because they do not want to leave their wounded comrades.
“Naabutan na tao namin doon, mga battle-stressed. Wala pang kain … may mga wounded, may mga patay.
“Ang reaction ng mga tao doon, ayaw na nilang gumalaw, dito na lang tayo. Kasi kapag umalis sila, maiiwan din yung mga wounded at mga patay,” Bannoya said.
It was then that Bannoya decided to talk to the most senior officer in the company to extricate the troopers with the 61st DRC leading the platoon. His men carried the dead and the wounded cops.
He told Congress that they were not able to take an inventory of the belongings of the cops.
There were three SAC forces on the ground on that fateful day: The 84th Seaborne which was tasked to track down Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, Amin Baco and their Filipino associate Basit Usman; the 55th SAC which was tasked to be the 84th SAC’s blocking force, and the 45th SAC which is on the highway and acted as standby troopers.
Eight elite cops from the 84th Seaborne and 36 members of the 55th SAC were killed in the clash.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that Bannoya’s narrative only proved that the AFP aided in the counterterrorist mission. RC
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.