PNoy declares January 30 a 'National Day of Mourning' after Mamasapano encounter

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday officially declared a "National Day of Mourning" on Friday, January 30 to symbolize the sorrow and empathy of the entire country after the bloody encounter which killed 44 policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Sunday morning.

Mamasapano, Maguindanao clash
44 cops died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao clash

"As President and as father of this country, I am greatly saddened that our policemen had to lay down their lives for this mission. Without question, these people are heroes; they who willingly put themselves in danger to address threats to our security; they who were wounded; they who gave their lives in the name of peace. To honor those who perished, I am declaring a National Day of Mourning to symbolize the sorrow and empathy of our entire country."

UPDATE: Aquino signed on Wednesday the Proclamation No. 953 s. 2015 declaring January 30 as a national day of mourning.  Note: There's no announcement of work or class suspension for Friday.

"The entire nation is requested to offer prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of the victims and for our people to reclaim our sense of humanity. Further, I instruct all public institutions and military installations in the Philippines to lower the Philippines flag to half-mast," Aquino said in a statement.
Aquino on a televised speech from Malacanang Palace has addressed the national concern on the outcome of Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) mission to arrest two notorious terrorists namely Abdulbasit Usman and Zulkipli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan.

The NDRRMC has reported to Aquino that aside from 44 policemen who have died in the process of fulfilling their duties, 16 others were injured, including 3 civilians.

PNoy emphasized that Marwan and Usman are not common criminals.

"There is a long string of outstanding warrants for their arrest. There are no less than 8 outstanding warrants against Usman alone, while there are no less than 2 for Marwan. One of the earliest warrants was issued in 2002, which means that they were already being pursued when I was a member of Congress. Allow me to clarify: When a warrant is issued against an individual, all officers of the law are obligated to serve it. This is precisely why, since long ago, our security sector, including the AFP, PNP, and NBI, has undertaken multiple operations to capture Marwan, Usman, and other terrorists."

PNoy also clarified that approval from him for the said mission to proceed is not required.

"These agencies are not always required to obtain my approval for each and every one of their operations, because it would be impractical for them to wait for my clearance before proceeding. My duty: to make certain that they are carrying out their responsibilities. There are times when certain matters are elevated to my desk so that I may give guidance, give a more holistic view of the situation, or explain its wider implications."

"I emphasize: It is stated in Article II, Section 4 of our Constitution that “The primary duty of government is to serve and protect the people.” This is why, when our police force uncovered the precise location of Marwan and Usman, they decided to take action and serve the warrants of the two individuals."

It was past 4 in the morning when the SAF reached the stronghold in which Marwan and Usman were hiding. In the encounter that followed, the primary target, Marwan, was allegedly killed. Upon hearing the gunshots, Usman and his cohorts fought back. There were also non-combatants spotted in the houses in which Marwan and Usman were located; it was necessary for our forces to close the distance to avoid involving the innocent. Marwan’s house was the first attacked; Usman responded, and the element of surprise, which was necessary to avoid detection, was lost. This is why the SAF decided to withdraw and rendezvous with their companions, who were securing their exit route from the area where the encounter occurred. It appears that it was during this withdrawal when the bloodiest part of the clash happened.

PNoy before the end of his speech called out the attention of Filipinos to show a single aspiration for peace and ensure that the ultimate sacrifice made by some members of the SAF does not go to waste.

"We will gain justice, in time, through the right processes, and without letting go of our dreams to realize a widespread and lasting peace."

WATCH: President Aquino's Message to the Nation Delivered on January 28, 2015

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