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42 PNP-SAF slain in Mamasapano clash given arrival honors at Villamor Air Base

(Updated 2:19 p.m.) The Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday gave arrival honors to the remains of 42 of the 44 fallen members of the PNP-Special Action Force who were slain in a firefight in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao Sunday.

The remains of 42 policemen arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 10 a.m. On Wednesday, the remains of two of the 44 slain cops were laid to rest in Mindanao according to Islamic rites.

Cabinet officials present during the event include Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Transport Secretary Jun Abaya, and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Other notable guests were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, and Sen. Nancy Binay.
Most of the guests, including VIPs and relatives of the slain cops, donned black ribbons on their left arm. 
After the two-hour arrival honors at Villamor Airbase, the remains of the victims were brought to different funeral parlors.
A necrological service for the fallen heroes is scheduled on Friday at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Friday has been declared a national day of mourning for the 44 SAF members.

Aside from arrival honors, the  PNP and AFP also provided funeral services for the slain cops, who on Sunday were on a mission to serve arrest warrants to two high-profile terrorists – Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir also known as Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman.

The firefight erupted on Sunday in Mamasapano town killing 44 cops and hurting 12 others, a bloody clash considered as the elite force's biggest loss.

'Very minimum compliance'

In a anticipated televised speech on Wednesday night, President Benigno Aquino III admitted having knowledge on the covert operation of PNP-SAF.

Aquino claimed to have repeatedly reminded PNP-SAF chief Getulio Pascua Napeñas to cooperate with the MILF before the operation. However, the Commander-in-Chief said the latter only gave "very minimum compliance" to his order resulting to the loss of lives.

He is due to visit the wake of the slain PNP SAF members Friday.

Aside from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was also involved in the bloody encounter.

Aquino also declared Friday as a national day of mourning for the slain cops.

Leave from work

Mourning the deaths of 44 of their colleagues in Maguindanao,  police officers are considering filing  a five-day leave from  work.

But PNP Deputy PIO Chief Senior Superintendent Robert Po said: “‘Di naman kinakailangang mag-leave yung buong PNP officer corp to show our respects... and... sympathies.”

Batch-mates of the slain PNP-SAF officers have also changed profile pictures and cover photos on their Facebook accounts to an image of a black ribbon.

Some police officers have started wearing black bands on their police badges, while some officers in Cebu City have started wearing black armbands.

At Camp Crame, civilians have left flowers and messages at Gate 1. The Philippine flag remains at half-mast both at the National Police headquarters and at the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the group Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS) has demanded justice, saying, “The world needs to see that this country is not a safe haven for terrorists, but a nation that values our freedom and is grateful to our heroes.”

Amid public anger, a leader of the Catholic Church, on the other hand, urged the government to continue with the peace process.

“Yung paghahanap ng kapayapaan na nakabase talaga sa kapatiran, sa katotohanan, sa katarungan … isang mahabang proyekto 'yan na kailangan talaga na magtulong-tulong,” said Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. — with a report from Bea Montenegro/LBG/KG/VC, GMA News