A time to mourn: Grace resets SAF 44 hearing
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Grace Poe has rescheduled the Jan. 25 reopening of the probe on the Mamasapano incident to allow families to pay tribute to the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos on the first anniversary of the deaths.

The SAF troopers were pursuing international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, alias Marwan, in Barangay Tukanalipao when fighters of the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and a private armed group killed them on Jan. 25, 2015.

With less than two weeks before the anniversary, the National Police Commission also recommended to President Aquino the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Valor to Chief Insp. Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron for their “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty.”

It also wanted to award the Distinguished Conduct Medal to the remaining 42 SAF officers, including Supt. Raymund Train whose name was reportedly removed from those who received the award in August last year.

Tabdi was the team leader, navigator and point man in piercing and cutting through enemy lines during the Mamasapano operation, while Cempron served as lead gunner.

“While his team of 36 SAF commandos was being bombarded by the enemies in the cornfields of Tukanalipao, and without proper cover, Cempron bravely fought and made his last stand until he ran out of ammunition. At the last moment of his life, when escape could be possible, PO2 Cempron decided instead to facilitate the escape of PO2 Christopher Lalan by using his body as a diversion for snipers,” the Napolcom recommendation reads.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile claimed “there was a failure of leadership in Mamasapano, there was a failure of leadership in Luneta (where eight foreigners were killed after a dismissed police officer hijacked a tourist bus on Aug. 23, 2010)… There’s a failure of leadership in Yolanda. It’s always a failure of leadership.”

The claim was denied by Malacañang yesterday as Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino demonstrated his capability as a leader in several crisis situations and that this was affirmed by Filipinos through the trust and approval ratings they gave.

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo prodded the House committee on public order and safety to release its report on the investigation it made on the Mamasapano incident as soon as possible. – With Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Aurea Calica

ACIRC AUREA CALICA BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BARANGAY TUKANALIPAO CAMARINES SUR REP CECILLE SUERTE FELIPE CEMPRON CHIEF INSP CHRISTOPHER LALAN MAMASAPANO PRESIDENT AQUINO
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