MANILA - The heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who died in a firefight in Maguindanao province eight years ago will always motivate the national government to protect and serve Filipinos, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday.
In a message marking the 8th death anniversary of the so-called SAF 44, Marcos remembered the slain special police forces for making the "ultimate sacrifice" while carrying an operation dubbed as "Oplan Exodus" against Malaysian terrorist and bomb expert Zulkifli Abdhir, alias Marwan.
"We honor the 44 brave Special Action Force officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," Marcos said on his official social media accounts.
"Their heroism will always inspire us as we continue to protect and serve our people," he added.
Earlier in the day, the Philippine National Police (PNP) paid tribute to the supreme sacrifice of the 44 SAF commandos during the National Day of Remembrance event held at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
PNP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., said the fallen commandos' heroism would be forever etched in the books of the country's history.
"Like the generations of warrior heroes before them, our fallen SAF 44 gave everything they had, not for glory or recognition, but for something greater than themselves. The least we can do is to remember them and their ultimate sacrifice," Azurin said.
Azurin vowed to continue honoring the legacy of the SAF 44 so that they are remembered as "true heroes."
"We will continue to honor their memory and supreme sacrifice as we make sure that their legacy lives on through our actions and dedication to the service. They will always be remembered as true heroes, who have given their lives for the service of Filipinos," the country's top cop added.
Executive Secretary Luis Bersamin attended the event on behalf of the President and thanked the beneficiaries and families of the SAF 44 who gave their lives in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
He said the fallen commandos were "warriors to the very end" for fighting their last breath against "remarkably superior combination of the hostile forces that surrounded them."
In 2017, then President Rodrigo Duterte declared Jan. 25 as the National Day of Remembrance for the fallen SAF 44 under Proclamation No. 164 to commemorate their heroic sacrifice. (PNA)