MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, January 30, is set to lead necrological services for the elite cops killed in a bloody clash with Moro rebels.
He will also be viewing and saluting the coffin of each and every one of the 42 remains that will be received by their families.
Friday has also been declared a National Day of Mourning to honor the fallen Special Action Forces (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The Necrological Service would be attended by the members of the family of the slain PNP-SAF troopers, members of the Cabinet and other government officials as well as the officers and personnel of the PNP and their fellow PNP-SAF members,” Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said in a statement.
The crowd, including families and other government officials, is expected to number 500.
The service, which will take place in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, will begin with an interfaith prayer, before eulogies are delivered for the commanding officers. Of the 44 that were killed over the weekend, 42 remains will be present. The other two had already been buried, following their religious custom.
Aquino is expected to arrive at 10 am.
Upon his arrival, the President will approach every coffin. At least two members of the family will be next to each coffin. For every instance, Aquino will offer a silent prayer for the fallen cop, and present the “Medalya ng Katapangan (Medal of Bravery),” to be placed atop the coffin. He will also render a salute for every single one killed.
After paying his last respects to each of the troopers, he will meet with dependents of the fallen.
SAF Officer-in-Charge PCSupt Noli G Taliño will then deliver a eulogy for his comrades. Two family members of the cops will also speak, before the President delivers his message of sympathy.
After the program, a final viewing of the bodies will take place.
On Sunday, January 25, some 392 SAF commandos entered Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They were targeting two “high value targets,” one of them alleged Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as "Marwan.” The operation ended in the killing of 44 SAF troopers. (READ: Dead or alive? Top terrorist was cops' target)
The incident occurred less than a year after the MILF signed a landmark peace deal with the Philippine government, and as lawmakers deliberate on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which seeks to create an autonomous region initially headed by the MILF.
The MILF blames the failure of the PNP-SAF team to coordinate with them for operations in known MILF territories, as provided for in an agreement with the government.
On Thursday, Aquino was noticeably absent at the arrival honors for the cops, who arrived at Villamor Airbase aboard C-130s. The President was instead at the inauguration of a Mitsubishi plant in Laguna.
The decision caused an online uproar. Malacañang defended Aquino, saying he would lead the service on Friday, but netizens were not appeased by the explanation.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said “the entire nation is requested to offer prayers and all public institutions are directed to lower the Philippine flag in half-mast” on Friday, in solidarity with the bereaved families of the fallen troopers.
Aquino earlier said the cops will receive full benefits for their surviving kin. – Rappler.com