On Day of Valor, Goldberg honors SAF 44, all freedom fighters | Inquirer News
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On Day of Valor, Goldberg honors SAF 44, all freedom fighters

/ 02:40 PM April 09, 2015

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BATAAN, Philippines – US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Thursday said that both war veterans and modern-day heroes, including the “SAF 44,” should be remembered during the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan or Bataan Day).

“As we commemorate this Day of Valor in the Philippines, we honor all those who have fallen in the name of freedom,” he said at the commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Day of Valor in Mt. Samat, Pilar, Bataan.

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“We also honor the memory and heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members who laid down their lives to protect us all against a modern scourge: international terrorism.”

The “SAF 44” refers to the 44 policemen who were killed during a controversial operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25. While the SAF troopers succeeded in killing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, an ensuing encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed groups in the area resulted in the deaths of their comrades, as well of 17 MILF fighters and three civilians.

Critics have accused the US of directly participating in the confidential mission. But the US Embassy has repeatedly denied the claims, saying US forces only shared information and aided in the rescue and retrieval operation.

In an interview after the event, Goldberg said it was important to remember the SAF 44 who sacrificed their lives to contribute to the fight against international terrorism by attempting to arrest and eventually succeeding in killing Marwan.

“We recognize that it’s important to work together all countries, not just the United States and the Philippines, but all countries against this surge of international terrorism,” he added. “The way we counter the violent extremism is to exchange information when we have it, to exchange expertise, to work together and that’s what we do here in the Philippines and we’re very proud of it.”

The ambassador said it is clear that the Mamasapano mission was “Philippine-planned and executed” though they have always provided information on international terrorists.

Goldberg said the US and the Philippines will face together both terrorism and natural disasters.

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“When the Philippines is threatened, it is not alone,” he said.

In addition to paying homage to the Filipino and American veterans who worked hand-in-hand to defeat the Japanese during World War II, Goldberg reassured President Benigno Aquino III and the Philippine government of US support in the region.

The envoy quoted US President Barack Obama who, during his last visit to the Philippines, said that the US commitment to the Philippines, through the Mutual Defense Treaty, is “ironclad.”

Goldberg said it was through “the relentless and indomitable spirit” of guerrillas and soldiers that the partnership of the US and the Philippines, recognized as the oldest democracy in Southeast Asia, was created.

He called it a “great alliance” that “helped preserve and protect the security and stability of the entire Pacific region.”

He also thanked Japan, which is also a close ally of the US in Asia.

“Yesterday’s enemies are today’s allies and strategic partners,” he said, referring to the fact that Japan was an enemy of both the Philippines and the US during World War II.

The Day of Valor marks three historical events during World War II – the fall of Bataan, the fall of Corregidor and the Battle of Besang Pass. AC

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TAGS: Fall of Bataan, Global Nation, News, SAF 44, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg
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