MALACAÑANG on Wednesday paid tribute to the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) personnel who perished in a police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao eight years ago.

In a message posted across all its official social media accounts, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) remembered the sacrifices of the fallen commandos.

“Ngayong ika-25 ng Enero, ating inaalala ang kabayanihang ipinakita ng 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officers sa munisipalidad ng Mamasapano noong 2015 (Today, January 25, we remember the heroism shown by the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officers at the municipality of Mamasapano in 2015),” it stated.

“Ang kanilang sakripisyo ay ‘di malilimutan at mananatiling inspirasyon para sa bawat Pilipino (Their sacrifice will never be forgotten and will remain an inspiration for every Filipino),” it added.

The 44 members of the PNP’s elite unit embarked on a high-risk operation dubbed as “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan.

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What was intended to be a serving of a warrant of arrest against Marwan turned into a bloody encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and other Muslim fighters outnumbering the policemen who had no backup or any other means of retaliation.

It was in 2017 when then president Rodrigo Duterte issued an Executive Order declaring January 25 as a National Day of Remembrance in honor of the “SAF 44”.