8 years on: Justice still elusive for families of slain 'SAF 44'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — Families of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in the Mamasapano clash in Maguindanao continue to cry for justice eight years since the controversial encounter.

For Kristine Clemencio, wife of the late PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio, justice can only be achieved once all those involved face jail time.

"For me, justice means ang mga (the) people liable [for the] death of our loved ones, they have to be behind bars," Clemencio said after a commemoration ceremony at the Philippine National Police's (PNP) regional office in Leyte.

Aslyn Acob, also a widow of a SAF member, has a different appeal for government officials.

"Sana po magbiyan ng pagkakataon ang aming mga anak, most especially sa gusto pumasok sa akademiya nangangarap na masundan ang yapak ng kanilang mga ama," she said.

[Translation: We hope that our children — especially those aiming to get into the academy — can be given a chance to follow in their fathers' footsteps.]

The "SAF44" were gunned down on Jan. 25, 2015 after an encounter with Moro rebels in the Maguindanao town. They were on a mission to capture top terror suspects.

A number of rebels and civilians also died during the day-long firefight.

READ: Hearings on SAF 44 cases impeded by the pandemic

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. also paid tribute to the fallen troops and highlighted their sacrifices for the nation.

"May the memories of the gallant 44 help us strengthen our faith in God and continue our sworn duty to protect the public from lawless elements, criminal acts, terrorism and illegal drugs that ruin the future of our children," he said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang expressed hope that their noble acts would continue to serve as an inspiration for the Filipino people.

Tacloban City-based correspondent Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.