ONE of the survivors of the infamous operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015 which left 44 members of the elite Special Action Force dead in a mission to neutralize Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist Zulkfli bin Hir alias Marwan is among this year’s outstanding police officials, the Journal Group learned yesterday
Lieutenant Colonel Raymund Train, currently the battalion commander of the PNP-SAF’s Rapid Deployment Battalion, was named as the Best Junior Police Commissioned Officer for Operations during the 116th Police Service Anniversary last Thursday.
A graduate of the PNP Academy, Train was the leader of the 84th Special Action Force Company which launched a ‘surgical mission’ to get Marwan in his hideout in Barangay Tunakalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.
During the August 2015 Police Service Anniversary, then Superintendent Train and the late Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron were reportedly supposed to be awarded the PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal and the PNP Medal of Valor (Posthumous) respectively but the award did not come supposedly due to ‘last minute orders’ from the Aquino administration.
Train and the rest of the Gallant SAF 44 would eventually get the same Distinguished Conduct Medal years later.
However, the PSA award befitting Train’s courage and bravery in action as the overall commander of the SAF assault team would come five years later.
Train was among the SAF commandos who narrated before the Senate the circumstances before, during and after their mission to neutralize Marwan which led in a bloody encounter with Muslim rebels that left 44 of their comrades dead in Mamasapano.
Train said it all started when he and his team of 36 operatives began their trek to the lair of Marwan from their drop-off point near Maharlika Highway. Due to strong river current, the official and only 12 of his men from the SAF’ 84th Seaborne Company managed to assault Marwan’s hut which is located 250 meters from their drop-off point.
The SAF commandos reached their target at 4:15 in the afternoon and were met with heavy fire from Marwan who was alerted by the presence of the lawmen surrounding his hut. After the initial exchange of gunfire, SAF commandos attacked the hut and one of them killed Marwan with a shot in the chest. The team quickly took pictures of Marwan and severed his index finger, which was later turned over to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for DNA test.
While withdrawing from the village, the SAF troopers were met with automatic gunfire from hundreds of gunmen triggering the gunbattles which killed the SAF 44. The survivors said that at least 250 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups in the area were killed in the gunfight.
Last Thursday, Lt. Col. Train was among the awardees during the 119th PSA graced by President Duterte via zoom. The Police Service Anniversary is celebrated in commemoration of the establishment of the Philippine Constabulary as the country’s first insular police force founded on August 8, 1901.
PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año led the presentation of awards to the outstanding police uniformed and non-uniformed personnel via zoom in observance of strict health protocols imposed by government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing Modified Enhance Community Quarantine in Metro Manila.
Apart from Train, the other individual awardees are the following:
•Best Senior Police Commissioned Officer for Administration – Colonel Noel Sandoval, chief of the Crime Research and Analysis Center of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management
•Best Senior Police Commissioned Officer for Operations – Col. Elmer Ragay, the Benguet Police Provincial Office director;
•Best Junior Police Commissioned Officer for Administration – Major Benjiel Jhon Danglosi, chief of the Personnel Benefit and Allowances Section of the Police Regional Office 5 Regional Comptrollership Division, PRO 5;
•Best Senior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Administration – Master Sergeant Gilbert Neypes, the Administrative Police Non-Commissioned Officer of the PNP-SAF Rapid Deployment Battalion;
•Best Senior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Operations – Executive Master Sergeant Joeffrey Kent Panganiban, the Force Executive Master Sergeant of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 4;
•Best Junior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Administration – Staff Sergeant John Cliffton Ermitaño, chief administrative officer of the PRO12 Regional Learning and Doctrine Development Division’s Training Program Section;
•Best Junior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Operations – Corporal Gary de Guzman, warrant officer of the Esperanza Municipal Police Station in Sultan Kudarat;
•Best Non-Uniformed Personnel (Supervisory Level) - NUP Imelda Pascua of the PRO2 and;
•Best Non-Uniformed Personnel (Non-Supervisory Level) - NUP Luzviminda Mosquera, officer-in-charge of the PRO12 NUP association.