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Napeñas believes justice remains elusive for SAF 44

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Nine years since their “massacre” in a tactical operation that went south in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, former Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas, Jr. said justice has not been served for his fallen officers known to the public as “SAF 44.”

Napeñas shared his sentiments at the National Remembrance of the Heroic Sacrifice of the SAF 44 held Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite. He lamented that to this day, no formal complaints have been filed against those who killed the policemen.

“Was there a case filed against those people who killed the 44? Until now, not yet,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the event. “I would like to see cases filed against the perpetrators, because they killed, that’s murder… They were massacred,” the retired SAF commander added.

The 44 policemen were slain in 2015 following a brutal clash with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other armed combatants in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano.

They were sent on a mission to capture high-ranking Malaysian terrorists who went into hiding in Mindanao. Government forces managed to neutralize the targets, but lost the 44 PNP-SAF commandos in the process.

Napeñas took full responsibility for the incident and was relieved from his position. He went on trial for charges of graft and usurpation of authority along with former PNP Chief Alan Purisima, but the Sandiganbayan acquitted both in 2020.

The government later on entered into a peace agreement with the MILF, leading to the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), to prevent further hostilities. But, according to Napeñas, this is not enough.

“Do you think justice has been served when no case has been filed against them?” the former PNP-SAF commander wondered. “Is it enough that there was a peace process back then? You be the judge,” he told reporters. 

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