SAF 44 kin: Aquino mentioned Marwan, but not fallen cops in Sona
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines―President Aquino, in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, might have mentioned the killing of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan as one of his administration’s achievements, but he was silent on the details.
The President did not say that 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force, now known as SAF 44, were killed in the operation against Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.
“I’m just saddened by the fact that there was no mention. He (President Aquino) could have thanked those who sacrificed their lives,” Erica Pabalinas, wife of the slain SAF officer, Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas.
“He (Mr. Aquino) just showed that he is just good for his own interest,” Erica said.
Merly Gamutan, widow of Insp. Joey Gamutan, who was also killed in the Mamasapano operation, said she did not watch the President’s Sona “because I know there’s nothing to it.”
“He’s guilty, that’s why he did not mention the SAF 44,” Gamutan said.
Some relatives of the SAF 44 blamed the President for what had happened.
Rico Erana blamed President Aquino for the death of his son, Senior Insp. John Gary Erana.
“If not for him (President Aquino), the SAF 44 would still be alive today. It is as if he doesn’t care that it happened. In his Sona, he did not give importance to the lives of those killed just to get Marwan,” Erana said.
But some Mamasapano residents are, in a way, grateful for those who sacrificed their lives―the SAF 44, and the Moro rebels and civilians who were also killed in the Jan. 25 fighting.
“Those who gave up their lives are important to us here. Because of what happened, government learned about our situation here. Help came,” Usman Lindungan, a 42-year old farmer in Mamapasano, said.
He said the lives of the SAF 44, 15 rebels and four civilians did not go to waste. “I pray to Allah every time I go to the cornfield near where the SAF 44 died. I also ask those who died to help us have a good harvest,” he said.
The cornfield, Lindungan said, seemed to have been “blessed by the spirits,” as the crops have been growing healthy.
Aside from the good harvest the past months, Lindungan said government has been implementing projects in the town.
Amil Hashim, also a farmer, said they have started feeling that government cared.
Hashim works part time in the construction of a bridge, which will replace the old, wooden bridge near the site where some of the SAF 44 were killed.
“We now have a good road from the highway to the bridge,” he said.
For Sadam Gumanod, 23, one of the bridge builders, said they owed it to the slain SAF 44, rebels and civilians.
“They are the reason why government is now taking care of us,” he said.
Still, Gumanod hopes peace is not temporary, “and that no one should have to die for government to know our situation.”
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