By JULLIE Y. DAZA
As the SEAGames have shown, we have no lack of heroes and champions, many of them unsung and unheralded. When a policeman gave up his life by covering a live grenade with his body as it was lobbed by an amok, how many of us bothered to remember his name?
He was Police MSgt. Jason Magno, a name that Senator Sonny Angara wants to perpetuate in the national consciousness for a “heroic death (that) should serve as a reminder of the service provided by our brave men and women in the PNP.” MSgt. Magno was responding to a report about an amok who was threatening students of Initao College in Misamis Oriental with a knife and grenade. Before the man could be subdued, he had thrown the grenade, prompting the policeman to save the students without thinking of his own safety. Ten students and another policeman were wounded.
MSgt. Magno’s heroism is reminiscent of that of Brother Richie Fernando, a Jesuit scholastic who died saving students in a survivors’ center in Cambodia by doing the exact same thing: He tried to hold back the attacker
but the grenade fell out of the man’s hand, bounced and landed behind Richie. Richie, 26 years old (in 1996), died shielding the attacker from the blast and saving the lives of several people in a classroom.
In the language of the Church, Richie died a martyr’s death, in which case proving he qualifies for sainthood ought to move the long and tedious campaign more speedily from “Venerable” to “Beatified” and finally to “Canonized Saint.”
There will be no similarly slow and painful vetting complete with documented miracles in the case of MSgt. Magno, and it’s easy to say that cops are paid to “protect and serve,” but doesn’t he deserve more than just a Senate resolution honoring him for “saving more lives but tragically losing his own”?
A brave cop gave up his life in the line of duty and a Senate resolution is all he gets? Are Senator Angara’s colleagues too busy to do more than praise a real hero? Meanwhile, a priest working with survivors of landmines who gave up his life to save lives is on the road to sainthood, in God’s time.