‘They did not die in vain,’ says PNP Chief Azurin Jr of ‘Gallant 44’

CEBU CITY -- The bravery and heroism of the so-called ‘Gallant 44’ live on and will continue to inspire the police force.

This was the message of General Rodulfo Azurin Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), during the 8th National Day of Remembrance for SAF 44 on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Camp Sergio Osmeña here.

Azurin’s message was delivered by Maj. Gen. Arthur Cabalona, Deputy Commander of Area Police Command APC-Visayas, who was joined by PRO-7 Director Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis during the event.

Aside from the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were killed in a botched mission to capture a Malaysian bomber in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao eight years ago, the PRO-7 also honored those police officers who perished in line of duty.

Azurin said the 44 SAF commandos did not die in vain, saying their heroics helped shape a better police organization.

“Their legacy of heroism is not just a memory, but an inspiration for future generations of police officers to continue to serve with valor and integrity. The legacy - that we must all strive to uphold. Their actions have shaped the PNP into what it is today and their legacy is something that we must all take great pride in,” read Azurin’s message

Relatives of three slain SAF troopers who were from Central Visayas were on hand during the commemoration.

Among the SAF troopers killed during the Mamasapano mission were PO3 Junrel Kibete from SAF-Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, PO2 Romeo Cempron and PO1 Windell Candano, both from SAF-Cebu Provincial Police Office.

The PRO-7 also recognized its personnel who died in the performance of their duties.

They were Master Sgt. Michael Candido Alde, Staff Sgt. Careby-Cylde Valle Alinsug, Staff Sgt. Jade A Carabuena, and Cpl. Rey Agustilo Ambo.