Today, I dedicate this space to honor the 44 Special Action Force policemen who died in the line of duty in Maguindanao.
While we have yet to piece together the details of this botched operation, while we ask the hard questions and demand for accountability, while we press for justice for the dead and punishment for the guilty and the responsible, today, we take the time to thank our fallen brothers for their service to the country.
Many of them were young men in the cusp of their lives. They never complained the hard lot of a policeman’s life. They left behind their families and the comforts of homes, ready to be thrown at a moment’s notice in hostile territory to fight for the one thing they will never know in their lifetime – peace. And they never begrudged the Filipino this thankless, often lonely, duty.
My grandfather was a policeman. When I was growing up, he used to tell us stories culled from his years of service as one of Manila’s Finest. We used to think of them as “adventures of daring and exploit.” We clapped our hands in glee whenever he reached the parts where bullets whizzed over their heads and small children that we were, we always asked for more. We never gave a second thought to the danger and risks he and his comrades took. It didn’t occur to us that all his stories could have gone the other way, that he could have been injured, or worse. They were all just stories to us.
When I was older, I asked him why he chose to go into the service. By then, I knew about the reality of being a policeman. The low pay. The long hours. The inadequate material support in equipment, ammunition, even uniforms.
He thought about this for a while. The only answer he gave me was “somebody had to do it.”
Our men in uniform serve as the wall that protects us from the horrors of hate, evil, and war. Today, we grieve the loss of these 44 young men who gave up their lives so that all of us may be a little safer in our homes, in our communities, and in our country. They never sought merit or glory. They never dreamt of money or fame. I bet if we could ask them why they bravely laid their lives on the line, they’d tell you the same thing.
Somebody had to do it.
And that somebody was them, the 44 fallen braves of the Special Action Force and their brothers in service who risk their lives daily for us. I wish they knew how much we appreciate their bravery and service.
Thank you for your sacrifice.