MANILA, Philippines – "To learn today, to lead tomorrow."
On Saturday, March 17, the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) welcomed home its lakans and lakambinis — alumni serving in the country's police, fire, and jail forces.
With its cadets always bound for combat and rescue, the PNPA has come to know that not everyone it sends off will always be able to come back.
This was the backdrop recalled by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año when he spoke to alumni as the event's guest of honor and speaker.
Año opened his speech by recounting the life of Senior Inspector Freddie Solar from PNPA batch 2007.
Solar, Año said, "came from a common Filipino family that doesn't have much in their possessions" but dared to dream to become a "public servant."
Solar entered the police service, apparently adored by everyone he worked with, and was "not choosy" with where he was assigned. He did not even give a moan when he was assigned to Mindanao.
"He could have achieved more," a saddened Año said, but armed men put a sudden end to Solar's days in service when they shot and left him to die during the early days of the Marawi siege.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
"The story of Freddie is the story of the academy. You are standing on sacred grounds," Año said, himself the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the siege.
The PNPA was created as a response to the old system of local officials just naming anyone they trust to become a cop. It ended with police forces becoming almost like private armies.
Around for 40 years later, the old system has been overhauled, with the PNPA continuing to strive for justice, integrity, and service for all its graduates.
Other heroes recognized
Just like Solar, the PNPA has dozens of other officers killed as they offered themselves to a life of service, their inspiring stories reduced to statistical categories as "killed in action" or "killed in the line of duty."
One of them recognized this year was Superintendent Arthur Masungsong, who belongs to the PNPA 1997 class.
An experienced operative of the PNP's Anti-Kidnapping Group, Masungsong was admired by his colleagues too for his kindness and his fervor for service.
Two days before Christmas in 2017, he took a mission to save a kidnap victim with a P15 million ransom.
Nobody had to pay a penny for rescuing the victim, but Masungsong had to give up his life. His team shot it out with the kidnappers, with Masungsong as the only fatality from the encounter.
Año then remembered PNPA graduates from the tragic Mamasapano clash in 2015, and hailed 117 PNPA alumni who assisted in the Marawi siege.
He urged the rest of the alumni to strive to be like them.
"Up to the last breath, let us stay true to the ideals of leadership and service... As PNPA alumni, you are the best products of what the PNPA has to offer," Año said. – Rappler.com