SPO1 Lover Inocencio: a hero comes home

PANABO CITY (MindaNews / 31 January) – Tears started to roll down his cheeks as Joy Inocencio shared the last time he saw his elder brother, SPO1 Lover Inocencio, one of 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF) killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 while on a mission to get international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Inocencio returned home in a flag-draped white casket on Saturday afternoon, after arrival honors at the airport in Davao City and a mass at the chapel inside the Philippine National Police regional headquarters in Catitipan, Davao City.

The last time he was home was during the Christmas break from December 23 to 29. He came home on the 23rd because it was the 5th birthday of his only child, Justin, and he promised him and his wife, Liezl that they would spend Christmas in Manila this year.

Joy, who who works as a fastfood attendant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna told MindaNews he last saw his brother in 2014 when the latter visited them.

“He received a Medalya ng Kadakilaan sometime last year for his active participation against the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City,” said Joy.

Joy was referring to the September 9, 2013 Zamboanga siege where hundreds of MNLF guerillas under Commander Al Habier-Malik of Nur Misuari’s MNLF trooped to Zamboanga City purportedly to hold a peace rally and raise the MNLF flag at City Hall, held several residents hostage and engaged with government troops.

“He showed me the photos and videos of their encounter in Zamboanga City. That was the time when I realized how dangerous his profession was, but it never occurred to me that that would be our last meeting,” Joy said.

Inocencio finished his Public Saftety Basic Recruit Course in 2002 and has undertaken special trainings on Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Agent, Sensitive Site Exploitation Operation, Counter Terrorism, Scuba Diving, Maritime Tactical Operations, Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare, Scout Ranger and PNP Scout.

Joy learned from his elder siblings that Lover was killed in a clash.

“Galit na galit ako nung nalaman ko ang nangyari sa kuya (Lover) ko. Parang gusto kong maging sundalo at ipaghiganti si kuya pero kanino naman ako maghihiganti? Pero mas galit nag galit ako ngayon dahil parang ipinain at pinabayaan sila kuya sa gyera,” (I was very angry when I learned about what happened to him. I wanted to be a soldier to avenge his death but against whom? But I am more angry now having learned that Kuya and his companions were sent to their deaths without back-up support), Joy stressed.

“Walang reinforcement, walang nagsasalita ngayon kung sino talaga ang may utos, wala kaming naririnig. Hindi din naming alam kung totoong patay ba talaga si Marwan” (No reinforcement, no one saying who really issued the order, we haven’t heard who. We also do now know if, indeed, Marwan is dead), he added.

Marwan or Zulkifli Abd Hir, a suspected terrorist with a US$5 million (PhP 220 milion) bounty on his head, and Abdulbasit Usman, a Filipino national with a million dollar (PhP 44 million) was the primary target of the PNP-SAF’s mission in Mamasapano.

Despite what happened to his brother and his comrades, “basta mabigyan ng hustisya pagkamatay ng kapatid ko, managot ang mga tao sa likod ng mission na ito, alam kong hindi nasayang ang buhay ng kapatid ko” (for as long as justice will be served, the people behind this mission are held accountable, then my brother’s death would not have been in vain), Joy said. (Toto Lozano/ MindaNews)