SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) formally honored on Monday the members of the Subic-based Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) contingency team who volunteered for the operations to free Marawi City from the ISIS-led terrorists of the Maute Group.
During the flag ceremony here last Monday, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma led officers and employees of the agency in recognizing the courage and heroism of each of the 42 members of the 2nd Special Action Battalion who are headquartered at the Naval Magazine Facilities in the Subic Bay Freeport.
“None of us is perfect by nature, but you are perfect in showing us what we can do to defend our country and its people,” Eisma told the police contingent under the command of Police Superintendent Mario Mayames Jr.
“You volunteered to fight the terrorists, and you did a great service to our nation,” Eisma added.
During the recognition ceremony where employees cheered the police officers, Eisma announced that aside from a certificate of commendation, the SBMA will give each policeman P10,000 cash as a token of appreciation for upholding peace and order in the Freeport and other parts of the country.
The SAF were part of the joint military and police forces that ended the war in Marawi after five months of fighting.
For his part, Mayames recalled that before deployment to Marawi, the SAF volunteers underwent a two-week refresher course in combat skills, armaments and equipment. Yet their training in mountain, jungle and urban warfare did not prepare them for the Marawi experience, he added.
“The situation in Marawi was very rare. Unlike before where we conducted urban warfare and our enemies were holed in one or three buildings, in Marawi the enemies were in all the buildings and had a 360-degrees firing range. Our firing range was only 180 degrees,” Mayames said.
Still he noted that after the three months in Marawi, the Subic-based 2nd SAF battalion only suffered two wounded among its 42 members.
Mayames also recounted feeling pity for the devastation suffered by the city. “And I can’t help asking myself, was it really heroism that we did in Marawi?” he added.
“We just went there killing the enemies and (in effect) destroyed all of Marawi. Was it really heroism?” an emotional and teary-eyed Mayames asked.
The SBMA employees cheered and said, “Yes.”
The SAF commander also explained later why it was necessary to bomb and destroy the whole Marawi.
“We could not penetrate each building because of snipers who were holed up for cover underground,” he recalled. “The aerial bombings were necessary to put the enemy at bay so that the soldiers and police could launch an assault against them.”