Honoring SAF 44 in quiet rites in Catanduanes, Cavite
The silence was broken only by the muffled cries of members of the family of slain Special Action Force (SAF) officer Chief Insp. Max Jim Tria as they watched a small group of police officers from the province execute snappy salutes in honor of the slain commando.
From their home in Barangay Cabihian over a kilometer away, Senior Insp. Guillermo Tria and his wife Efigenia visited their son’s black granite tomb housed in a concrete mausoleum at Palta Catholic Cemetery in the morning of Jan. 25, the day President Aquino gave honors to the fallen SAF 44.
Together with two of Max Jim’s siblings and close relatives, the Tria couple heard Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Ding Robles.
The absence of any official from the provincial and municipal government was glaring.
Senior Supt. Jesus Martinez, Catanduanes police provincial director, and five of his officers from Camp Francisco Camacho came after the Mass, with officers from the Virac police station following a few minutes later.
Absent in ceremony
Former Gov. Joseph Cua also arrived and joined the Tria family for refreshments.
Senior Inspector Tria told the Inquirer that they would skip the ceremony for the awarding of medals of valor given to two of the SAF 44 officers and distinguished conduct medals for Max Jim and the other slain SAF officers.
“We would rather be here with our son to mark the first anniversary of his death,” the elder Tria said.
There were no pictures taken, as the family, as usual, had opted to keep their mourning private.
There were no speeches either, only condolences expressed in whispers and recollections of a fine, obedient son.
The elder Tria, who is retiring in August this year, also withheld comment on the government’s handling of the Mamasapano case and the ongoing Senate hearing on the issue.
A few hundred kilometers away, cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite province, offered Mass for the SAF 44.
PNPA head Chief Supt. Armando Ramolete described Monday’s program as “simple” yet “solemn.”
After the Mass, he said the cadets also offered a wreath at the SAF 44 monument inside the academy. Of the 44 slain police commandos, six were alumni of the PNPA.
The short activity, Ramolete said, was organized by the PNPA Alumni Association. It was also the alumni association that invited former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas to the activity at the academy.
But none of the families of the SAF 44 came. “The speeches talked about heroism. About how the cadets should follow the deeds and emulate the 44,” Ramolete said in a phone interview. “Nothing political,” he added.
“It’s about being an inspiration [to the cadets] and of course achieving justice [for the SAF 44],” PNPA spokesperson Chief Insp. Ritchie Yatar said in a separate phone interview.
Napeñas was the head of the SAF during its mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Maguindanao province on Jan. 25, 2015.
Now retired, Napeñas is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance, the party of Vice President Jejomar Binay, a presidential candidate.
Retired Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy III, PNPA Alumni Association head, was quoted in his speech as saying the alumni association chose to hold the activity at the academy to keep it “solemn and away from prying eyes.”
Last year, the alumni association called on cadets and police officers to join a nationwide justice march for the SAF 44.
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