Was it worth it? 'Slain SAF men would’ve said yes'

Thea Alberto-Masakayan
Was it worth it? 'Slain SAF men would’ve said yes'

Was the loss of 44 lives in an operation to kill one terrorist worth it?

Thus asked Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, officer-in-charge of the Special Action Force, the police unit which lost 44 men during an operation that targeted high-ranking terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan" and Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman.

Speaking before the bereaved families of the fallen men, Taliño said SAF troops would’ve said their deaths were worth it.

Related story: Never forget: Names and faces of slain SAF men

“Is it worth it? One international terrorist equivalent to 44 SAF troopers. I’m sure if you will ask them, it is worth it...dahil mas maraming buhay ang maililigtas kung mawala si Marwan,” Taliño said.

Marwan, who is listed among FBI’s most wanted terrorists and has a $5million-bounty for his arrest, is supposedly behind deadly bombings in Indonesia. He was killed in the Mamasapano operations but his supporters, alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked SAF men. The DNA samples from the body supposedly belonging to Marwan had been sent to the U.S. for testing.

Taliño also recalled the final moments before he found out the cops have already been killed. He said victory they felt over the radio message "Mike One Binggo," which meant the mission had been successful, was short-lived.

"There was radio silence. After the battle, I knew that voice will never to be heard again. That voice belongs to Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas,” he said, crying.

He even said he felt guilty for not being able to "extend the help that they have asked for...but we did our best” The officer then gave a snappy salute before the coffins lined up at Camp Bagong Diwa.

Taliño also gave tribute to sacked SAF Chief, Police Chief Superintendent Getulio Napeñas.

In a report by Philippine Daily Inquirer, Napeñas claimed full responsibility for not informing military counterparts due to the confidentiality of the operation.

“General Napeñas is a good man. we thank him for giving us a much-needed good leadership,” Taliño said.