AWANG AIRPORT, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 29 Jan) – The Philippine National Police held a sendoff ceremony for 42 policemen slain in Mamasapano whose remains were airlifted to Villamor Airbase in Manila Thursday morning.
Fellow policemen carried the 42 caskets, each draped with the Philippine flag, from the gymnasium in nearby Camp Siongco, headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division, into waiting Army trucks.
The trucks then whisked the caskets to the tarmac at airport where three Air Force C-130 planes waited to take them to Manila.
The bodies of two other slain elite policemen were brought to Zamboanga City earlier so they could be buried immediately in accordance with Muslim practice.
Senior Supt. Noel Armilla, police director of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said a sendoff ceremony fit for fallen heroes were accorded to the slain policemen.
“The bodies of the officers were carried above the shoulders of their fellow officers. The bodies of enlisted personnel were carried below the shoulders. That is our tradition,” Armilla said.
At least four senior police officers and 40 other police commandos died in last Sunday’s clash involving the PNP-Special Action Force, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.
Twelve other policemen were injured while the MILF suffered 11 deaths and 9 wounded.
Armilla said none of the families of the dead policemen were present at the vigil at the 6ID gymnasium Wednesday night.
Police officers nationwide will wear black ribbons on their badges in solidarity with the families of the slain policemen.
In Cagayan de Oro City, a Requiem Mass with be offered at the St. Augustine Cathedral on Friday.