President Duterte paid tribute to the brave 44 policemen killed in Mamasapano in 2015, saying the “heartbreaking” incident showed the quest for peace comes with a price.
In a message on the sixth anniversary of the Mamasapano clash, the President said the policemen offered their lives to defend the country and combat threats to national security.
“Today, we honor the memory of the 44 troops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who offered their lives defending our nation six years ago in Mamasapano, Maguindanao,” the President said in a message.
“An enduring testament to the unyielding commitment of our uniformed personnel to fight all threats to our national security, this heartbreaking incident serves as a painful yet necessary reminder to all of us that the struggle for lasting peace comes with a very heavy price,” he said.
On January 25, 2015, dozens of police commandos were killed in a heavy fighting with Islamic militants in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The police were on a mission to arrest two terrorist suspects when the deadly clash broke out.
Then President Benigno Aquino III, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima and PNP-Special Action Forces (SAF) Commander Getulio Napeñas Jr. were slapped with charges for their role in the bungled Mamasapano operation.
But in 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman cleared Aquino of the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. The Sandiganbayan also dismissed the charges of usurpation of authority and graft against Purisima and Napeñas last year.
According to the President, the nation not only lost valiant policemen “who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation.”
“On that day, there were also some of us who lost their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends and colleagues whose memories will forever be in their hearts,” he said.
To the families of the fallen SAF personnel, the President said the nation owes them “a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid.” “You have the love and respect of a grateful nation,” he added.