Wife upset over misinformation: SAF member refused medal

Bryner L. Diaz (The Freeman) - August 8, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - “Mora bitaw og gihatagan ka og regalo ug gibawian at the same time. Mora’g napalaw.” (It’s like you were given a gift that was also taken back. It’s disappointing).

This was the comment of the wife of Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron, one of the 44 Special Action Force commandos killed in the Mamasapano operation last January, after she found out that her husband’s name had been dropped from the list of awardees during the 114th service anniversary of the Philippine National Police on Friday.

Doctor Christine Cempron, told The FREEMAN that it was very frustrating and disappointing on her part to know that her husband’s name was dropped from the list of awardees at the last minute. 

Had it not been for a phone call saying that her husband would be given the award, she would not have felt that way.

She said that SAF brigade personnel called her up on Friday, July 31, and told her that PO2 Cempron will be given the Medal of Valor —the highest award in the PNP.

The Medal of Valor is only given any member of the PNP who has performed “a deed of personal bravery and self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty so conspicuous as to distinguish himself clearly above his comrades in the performance of more than ordinary hazardous service”, according to the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.

She was further told to buy a Filipiniana dress because the award will be given by no less than President Benigno Aquino III on the occasion of the 114th anniversary of the PNP in Camp Crame.

Doctor Cempron said she complied with what was told to her and arranged a flight to Manila. She was told that the expenses will be shouldered by the PNP.

However, on Monday she called the SAF headquarters to ask for an update on the event but was told that Camp Crame will still discuss the awarding and was asked to wait for further notice.

On Tuesday afternoon she was told by SAF headquarters that her husband will not be awarded since the Medal of Valor is a special award and it should be awarded in a special program. She said this gave her false hopes it will be given in a separate ceremony.

She said she even saw an online news post that her husband would be awarded the medal, but hours before the scheduled awarding she saw another online news post and the name of her husband had been dropped. By then she was already in Manila preparing for the event.

“Wala’y klaro,” Dr. Cempron said.

She added that she cannot blame the other families of the slain SAF commandos for feeling they are being left behind. She said that Camp Crame personnel even claimed they did not know that she had been informed of the awarding ceremony by the SAF personnel.

“Why do they have to announce something prematurely, only to retract it later? Di man siguro ni out of frustration but it doesn’t make sense,” she added.

PO2 Cempron is a native of Consolacion town, Cebu.

Another SAF member who was set to receive a medal but was dropped from the list was also Superintendent Raymund Train, a survivor of the operation. He was set to receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Earlier PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said that the SAF 44 were meant to receive honors for gallantry in action but the committee tasked to evaluate their performance “failed to finish its deliberations in time for the event”.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the selection of policemen and individuals given recognition during the police anniversary is deliberated only by the PNP officials and the Office of the President has nothing to do with it. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

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