EV media mark 40th day of SAF 44 death
Eileen Nazareno Ballesteros (The Freeman) - March 6, 2015 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines  — In the tradition of the Catholic faith, people gather to pray for their departed loved ones — on the ninth and the 40th day (known locally as tapos) from their death — with the belief that on these days their souls would leave this world unto the realm beyond.

This was the reason why the journalists of this city and Eastern Visayas, decided to observe the 40th day of the death of the 44 Special Action Force commandos, with a Mass and other activities to honor the heroes of the police force who gave their lives in Mamasapano, Maguindanao for the sake of the country.

The journalists, under the aegis of the National Press Club-Tacloban, commemorated the 40th day regardless of the religion that the 44 murdered SAF members may have belonged to.

Hector Go, a broadcaster in Tacloban and an active civic action volunteer, said the 40th commemorative rites were the best way to express gratitude to the SAF members who died on January 25 in a clash with the MILF, BIFF and another armed group in Mamasapano.

Go recalled how the SAF was able to keep the peace and order situation in Tacloban, five days right after the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013. The SAF commandos, led at the time by Chief Superintendents Carmelo Valmoria and Asher Dolina, protected the city from those who tried to rob houses and inflict harm on the hapless survivors.

“They (SAF) were simple people and were here to work,” Go said without however mentioning if there were among the SAF 44 who was in Tacloban during the post-Yolanda days, billeted at the back of a hotel while enforcing peace and order in the city.

The NPC-Tacloban issued this statement: “It’s about time we pay back forward with prayers for our fallen friends.”

Right after the Mamasapano bloodbath, Go spent time thinking how he can move his fellow Taclobanons to pay back forward to the slain SAF heroes. He consulted his colleagues in the media and they came up with a grand plan that was strictly “no politics” in commemorating the 40th day of the SAF 44.

The event, dubbed as Salamat Again Friend or SAF, was done with a Eucharistic Mass at the Sto. Niño Church in the city, followed by a wreath-laying and candle lighting at the nearby Noblejas junction in honor of the SAF heroes.

Those that helped the NPC-Tacloban in the holding of the SAF were the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, PNP Press Corps and Express It At The Park, with the support from the city government, the city police, regional government offices and the Tacloban Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among other collaborators.

Palo Archbishop John Du earlier encouraged the Catholic faithful within his jurisdiction to continually pray for the souls of the SAF 44 who died in Mamasapano. Father Apolinario Abing, chaplain of  the Police Regional Office-8, celebrated daily masses for two weeks for the heroes since January 25. Other priests also did the same in their respective parishes.

PRO-8 said that six of the SAF 44 were from Eastern Visayas: PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio, PO2 Glen Bedua, PO1 Joseph Sagonoy, PO3 John Lloyd Sumbilla, PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula, and PO2 Noel Balaca Jr.  (FREEMAN)

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