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5 members of the “Fallen 44” brought home to Leyte, Samar

TACLOBAN CITY – Five members of the ill-fated Special Action Force (SAF) who were massacred in Maguindanao last Sunday, January 25, were brought home to the region in two flights on Friday.

Two bodies arrived in the morning, that of PO1 Joseph G. Sagonoy of Brgy. Cabungaan, Silvino Lobos, Northern Samar and PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula of Brgy. Jamo-og, Rosario, Northern Samar.

In the afternoon, the bodies of PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio of Brgy. Baruguhay Norte, Carigara, Leyte; PO2 Noel Balaca Jr. of Sta. Monica, Oras, Eastern Samar and P02 Glenn Bedua of Brgy. San Jose, Dulag, Leyte, were also flown in.

The fallen cops were given arrival honors by colleagues at the airport. It was also learned that there were actually six SAF members from EV but one was buried in Bataan, where his wife and family are.

Ch. Superintendent Eusebio Mejos, designated spokesperson of the regional PNP, in an interview said that they were pained at the loss of colleagues but were resigned to the fact that these things were bound to happen in their job. “Masakit para sa amin ang nangyari,” he said, “pero wala tayong magagawa. Nangyayari talaga ang gaya nito sa trabaho namin.”

Espina being bypassed

Meanwhile, an official reached for comment on the incident who asked anonymity, said they are scandalized that the operation had the blessing of suspended Director General Alan Purisima, and that it was executed without the knowledge of OIC director general Leonardo “Dindo” Espina.

He said that while most of the police will not speak about it, but it is lowering their morale. “We have a code of conduct. Purisima is suspended so it should be Espina who should be in control. The incident just exposes to the public the reality that Espina is being bypassed. ” He also pointed out that it makes the accountability of the “chain of command” difficult, because how can a man who is not supposed to be working for the PNP for the moment be held accountable.

On the other end of the spectrum, Espina who should be responsible, cannot be blamed because he did not know of the operation.

He clarified he is not an Espina supporter, but he is not impressed with Purisima either. He said that Purisima’s “service performance” left much to be desired, especially in running operations. And apprehensions are rife about his credibility to lead the organization once again, after the incident, when his suspension is lifted.

My brother always wanted to be SAF

Reyandel Ramacula, 25, is the sister of the dead PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula. Looking exhausted as she waited for her brother’s body to arrive at the airport, she still granted the EV Mail an interview.  Her mother, Helen, 50, was fast asleep on a sofa seat beside her.

She said she can’t shed tears anymore. They have come to accept the reality that their brother is gone. “My brother always wanted to be a member of the Special Action Force. It was his dream and whenever we would remind him it was a more dangerous department of the police, he would always tell us he was ready for anything that would happen to him.”

She said they found out that Rodel was among those who died in the Maguindanao incident from the call of his girlfriend, Vida, who is in Dubai.

She said they seldom communicated with their brother, and would keep in touch with an occasional text or two. The last text she sent him, she said, was to remind him it was their mother’s birthday and that he should text her.

On the other hand, Rodel and Vida constantly communicated. Two days before the incident, Rodel called his girlfriend to tell her they would be on a dangerous mission. After that, Vida could not contact Rodel anymore.

The dead policeman’s girlfriend then called them to inquire about him. And shortly thereafter, they learned that he was among the 44 who were killed in Mindanao.

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