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Cops laid to rest

Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento and May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - February 9, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The two Cebuano policemen who were among the 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos killed in an operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, were laid to rest yesterday. One was buried in Talisay City and the other in Consolacion town.

Goodbye, hero

“To PO2 Candano goodbye, goodbye to our hero.”

These were the words of Chief Superintendent Orlando Ualat in his eulogy before the late PO2 Windel Candano was laid to rest yesterday noon in the Cebu South Memorial Garden in Talisay City.

Candano’s funeral Mass was held in the St. Ignatius of Loyola Chapel in Camp Sergio Osmeña, Cebu City.

“The untimely death of PO1 Windel Candano and the rest of the fallen 44 had saved millions of Filipinos from (being) supposed victims of bombing,” he said.

“Today, we bury the remains of the late PO2 Windel Candano. But I’m sure that their bravery and heroism will remain in our hearts,” he added.

Candano’s funeral cortege arrived at the cemetery 11:45 a.m. Former SAF troopers lined the pathway while others carried the casket draped in the Philippine flag to the gravesite.

Family, relatives and friends of Candano bid him their last goodbye after Police Regional Office-7 chaplain Arnulfo Castillo blessed the casket.

Ualat turned over to Candano’s wife, Michelle, a folded Philippine flag. She was seen holding the hand their only son as her husband’s casket was lowered to the ground.

Ualat said the death of Candano and the rest of the 44 SAF commandos was a heavy loss to the PNP.

“Of course their bravery and heroism will remain in our hearts forever. And we consider them as our heroes,” he said, “hopefully, the investigation being conducted by the Board of Inquiry will be completed so that we could give justice to the fallen 44.”

Meanwhile, PRO-7 directorial staff chief Senior Superintendent Edward Carranza believes the sacrifices of the slain policemen will not be in vain.

“Ang masasabi ko lang po ay masakit, kasi po parang kapatid eh. Makakaasa rin po kaayo na bilang dating SAF trooper at ang aming mga kasamahan ay tutupad pa rin po at gagampanan ang aming katungkulan,” he said.

“The force shall live with us and we will never die,” he added.

Cempron

Police Officer 1 Romeo Cempron who hails from Tayud, Consolacion, was buried at the Tayud Public Cemetery yesterday afternoon.

His remains arrived in Cebu last January 31. An eight-day wake was held at the Tayud Pastoral Center where the necrological services were also held last Saturday. Before his remains were buried, a requiem Mass was held at St. Joseph Parish at 3 p.m.

His widow Christine, his mother Zosima, and other relatives and friends attended the burial.

Romeo’s three brothers Richard, Brecio Jr. and Russell were also present. Richard is a policeman while Brecio is currently serving a sentence for homicide; he was accompanied by guards from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

PRO–7 regional director Chief Superintendent Prudencion Tom Bañas, PRO-7 deputy regional director for operations and Cebu City Police Office officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, Cebu Provincial Police Office regional director Noel Gillamac, station chiefs and other policemen also attended the burial.

A 21-gun salute was offered by fellow policemen who also shouted the battle cry for the PNP-SAF before the remains of Cempron were buried. They also left black bands previously attached to their badges inside the tomb of Cempron.

PNP-Cebu chaplain Castillo, who delivered the homily during the Mass, called for justice for the police heroes. As former chaplain of the Philippine National Police Academy, Castillo recalled how difficult and different the training of the SAF troopers was compared to the regular police training.

Bañas honored the commitment, service and sacrifice of the 44 slain commandos. 

“A fine police officer whose dedication to duty is beyond words, whose bravery in the face of danger is unquestioned. PO2 Romeo Cempron and the rest of the fallen 44 have sacrificed their lives reminds us of the fragility of our own lives,” he said in his necrological message.

He also extended his sincerest sympathies and prayers to the family of Cempron and expressed gratitude to the service rendered by Cempron.

“To the family of Cempron, words seem inadequate to express the deep sadness of your loss. I am sorry that he paid for such a great cause. I pray that God will comfort you in your grief and provide you the strength to heal your heavy sorrows. No amount of pride, appreciation and exaltation can make the pain and sorrow that we feel here today go away,” he said.

Christine who managed not to shed a tear for the past eight days finally broke down during her eulogy to her husband.

She thanked those who have extended sympathy to their family at one of the lowest points in their lives. She recalled how she refused to believe Romeo was among those who were killed in Maguindanao after she got a text message the evening of the day of the operation.

“I did not know how to react I thought it as just a joke. When it was confirmed by the battalion that he was one of the casualties, gusto ko dayon matug pagkagabii hoping I would wake up the following day, realizing it was just a bad dream,” she said between tears.

She said Cempron was 16th in the casualty list and found out that his comrades, who were also her friends, were also killed.

Christine got to know some of the 44 SAF members when she was stranded during the Zamboanga siege in 2013 when visited her husband during the said operation.

“I did not only lose a very good partner. I actually lost a lot of good troopers. I am so honored to get to know some of the troopers. They have their own share of heroic stories even if buhi pa sila,” she said. —/BRP (FREEMAN)

ARNULFO CASTILLO BOARD OF INQUIRY BRECIO JR. AND RUSSELL CANDANO CEMPRON POLICE ROMEO CEMPRON TALISAY CITY WINDEL CANDANO
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