PNP ‘discouraged’ from joining ‘Sympathy’ SAF44 run

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QUEZON City, March 8, 2015 – From an expected number of 1,000 runners from Dasmarinas, Cavite to Camp Crame and Quezon Memorial Circle, only about 10 remained.

Supporters of a sympathy run for the Fallen 44 hold up white flowers on March 8, 2015. The run began at 1:00 a.m., ending before 9:00 a.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish at the University of the Philippines Village. (Photo: Melo Acuña)

This was how Franciscan missionary Fr. Robert Reyes described their 44-kilometer run and walk activity to mark 44 days after the deaths of 44 Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, after the PNP’s permit to assemble at the PNP Grandstand was revoked at the last minute.

In a press briefing after the 9:00 a.m. Mass, retired Police Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy III said the permit to allow them to assemble at the PNP Grandstand was revoked a yesterday because “it was not a police-related activity.”

Permits cancelled

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), under Francis Tolentino, and the Quezon City local government under Herbert Bautista also cancelled permits to use the Quezon Memorial Circle, which were part of the runners’ route .

Rentoy also zeroed in on one Sr. Supt. Jerome Baxinela, a Philippine National Police Academy graduate and Camp Crame chapter president, who dissuaded other police officials from attending the activity.

“He may have been assured of his promotion but we will be meeting with the Philippine National Police Academy Alumni Association and decide what to do with him,” Rentoy said. He added aside from other sanctions, he may be ostracized by the majority of PNPA alumni.

The cancellation of the permits happened despite the fact that everything was “in order” since they announced the said activity immediately after the 29th EDSA Anniversary, said Rentoy.

“There were calls since yesterday which said it would affect the PNP should you opt to join the activity,” Reyes said of the run, which began at 1:00 a.m. today, ending before 9:00 a.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish at the University of the Philippines Village.

He added there were nine participants from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, two policemen on motor bikes and another constant running companion who managed to finish the activity.

Need to grieve

“What is wrong with grieving with others?” Fr. Reyes asked. He recalled the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish hosted a memorial Mass for Claretian missionary Rhoel Gallardo, who was killed by the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan some 15 years ago. Describing Gallardo as a martyr, he said the Fallen 44 died in a similar violent incident.

“War is absurd because nobody wins” the priest added, calling on those who believe all-out war is the only alternative to read historical accounts of various wars.

He said in today’s Gospel, Jesus Christ expressed his anger when he went after money changers and other businessmen who plied their trade in the temple. According to Reyes, who is also known as the “Running Priest”, this incident emphasizes both grieving and anger as important human sentiments.

“You should not bottle up your grief and anger as both need to be expressed,” he explained.

“Bakit ipinagbabawal ang pagtangis? (Why is it forbidden to cry?)” Reyes asked.

Sympathy runs

However, he underscored the need for peace as it is the only way to solve conflicts.

Reyes said the suffering and death of the SAF operatives in Mindanao remind everyone of Jesus Christ’s 40 days in the desert, which began with temptation and ended in liberation.

He said some 1,000 police officials and relatives and friends of the Fallen 44 also did a similar walk and run in Zamboanga City. There were also reports of similar activities in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. (Melo Acuña/CBCPNews)

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