ILOILO CITY - The Western Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO6) is one with the nation in remembering the gallantry of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF), an elite force of the Philippine National Police who died in the line of duty on Jan. 25, 2015.
"Today as we remember the sacrifice of the fallen SAF 44 commandos let us take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by these courageous men and the families they left behind. That unfortunate incident which resulted to the tragic loss of our Special Action Force troopers is a powerful reminder of the selflessness and devotion of our police officers to do their duty despite the odds and difficulties," said PNP Chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., in his message delivered by Area Police Command Visayas commander, Lt.Gen. Patrick Villacorte.
The commemoration in Western Visayas was highlighted by the wreath-laying ceremony at the Heroes Wall at the PRO6 headquarters in Camp Martin T. Delgado, a 21-gun salute and the sounding of taps.
The event was joined by Jennifer Allaga, the widow of the late PO3 Robert Allaga, one of the 44 who perished during the police operation.
Allaga is currently employed as non-uniformed personnel of the Antique Police Provincial Office operations office, a privilege that she received from the PNP following her husband's death.
The 34-year-old widow from Sibalom town, Antique province shared that she met her husband, who hailed from the town of Banaue, Ifugao province, when she was in Manila.
They were married for two years and PO3 Allaga had just reported back to duty after spending his Christmas break in Antique when the tragedy happened.
During the commemoration, she received a token and gift from PRO6 through Regional Director B/Gen. Leo Francisco.
Francisco said they would like to boost her morale by remembering the heroism of her husband.
Villacorte, in an interview, said the event is an annual commemoration to remind police officers of the heroism of the SAF troopers.
He added that eight years after, the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have already come up with joint resolutions on what to do in case of major operations.
The 44 SAF men died in the line of duty in a botched police operation called "Oplan Exodus" against two high-value targets, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias "Marwan," and terrorist Abdul Basit Usman on Jan. 25, 2015 in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province.
The SAF commandos were able to kill Marwan but failed to get Usman, who was later killed in another operation.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the annual commemoration of the heroism of the 44 SAF troopers through Proclamation No. 164 signed on Feb. 21, 2017. (PNA)