SHILAN, LA TRINIDAD, Benguet– Special Action Force (SAF) Police Staff Sgt. Reagan Salbino was one of those who had survived the five-month-long siege on the city of Marawi, which started May of 2017, to recover the place from Islamic militants, led by the Maute group.
He was one of the many heroes of Marawi who received a “Medalya ng Kadakilaan” or the PNP Heroism Medal after the siege ended in October of the same year.
Salbino got married on Dec. 20, 2018 to Fretzel, a Police Corporal assigned to the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera Mobile Force company, and dreamt of raising a family with her and living a full life.
“Very proud ako sa kanya (I’m very proud of him); he fought until the end,” Fretzel, who is three months pregnant, said as she narrated the exploits of her husband.
But fate seems to have a different plan for Salbino.
Salbino, a member of the 103rd Special Action Company of the Philippine National Police, was killed while serving a warrant of arrest against Abdullah Angantap Taurac for homicide and illegal gun raps in the early morning of Oct. 30, 2019 in Barangay Lilod Saduc, Marawi City.
Taurac was also killed during a shootout with police authorities that day.
“Masakit kasi wala pa kaming one year at hindi pa pinapanganak tong baby, hindi niya pa nakita pero sabi ko na lang, baka may mission siya na tinatapos niya (Painful because we have not even reached our one year anniversary and our child has yet to be born, but I tell myself that maybe when he still finishing his mission),” Fretzel said.
She described her slain husband as a fighter and strong-willed.
“Fighter siya kaya kahit ganito ang nangyari sa kanya, kahit sa huli nakikipaglaban pa rin siya. Kahit na may tama na siya, nakipaglaban pa rin (He is a fighter that is why even if this is what happened to him. At the end, he continued to fight, even if he was already wounded, he fought),” Salbino’s widow said at their family home in Shilan at Benguet’s capital town.
Salbino’s body was brought from Marawi to Shilan for a four-day wake. It was transferred to Barangay Taba-ao in Kapangan town, Salbino’s birthplace, for a three-day wake, where he will be laid to rest Thursday (Nov.7).
Fretzel recalled how thankful she was when Salbino came home after the “Battle for Marawi” in 2017.
“Nalasat na met diay ngem anya ngay, talaga nga adda ti misyon na siguro (He survived that but what else can we do, probably he really has a mission),” she said when asked why her husband did not ask for an assignment near Benguet.
She said she asked him to request for transfer to a nearer region but simply shrugged his shoulders.
“Sabi niya parang gusto ko pa doon magtrabaho pero sinasabi ko sa kanya, magpa-assign ka na dito (He told me that he still wants to work but I told him to request to be assigned here),” Fretzel said.
Salbino joined the SAF in 2011. After taking the basic recruit course, he went on to complete his two-years commando training.
Last visit home
Fretzel said she will miss him for being a good husband, selfless.
“He does not only think of himself; he is concerned with everybody. He is caring, he washes the clothes and cooks and I will miss those,” she said.
Her husband’s last visit home was on Oct. 4 and he stayed for 14 days.
“Alagaan ko ang baby, be healthy, I love you habang hawak niya ang tiyan ko (To take care of my baby and be healthy. He told me ‘ I love you’ while caressing my stomach),” Fretzel recounted as Salbino’s last words before leaving for Marawi.
“Since he learned of my pregnancy, he never failed to make me and our child feel how he loves the baby,” Fretzel said.
Fretzel said they spoke through cellular phone evening prior to the operation, their last conversation.
“He did not mention that they have an operation at dawn, which is not usual because he normally tells me but I understand that maybe he doesn’t want me to worry because of my pregnancy,” she said.
Despite losing her husband in battle, she said she would still stay in the police service.
“Ituloy ku ti serbisyok ti PNP ta isu ti kayat na, kinuna na idi nga ituloy mu aginggana agretire ka, agserbi ka nu anya ti sinapataan tayu, ituloy ku para met lang ditoy baby mi (I will continue to be a police officer because it is what he wants. He used to tell me to continue until I retire, serve based on the oath we gave, and I will continue to be one for our baby also),” Fretzel said.
Police Capt. Julius Cesar Ramirez, who was assigned as assistant commander of the group in 2018, said Salbino is a loss for the country.
“He is one who does not need to be told, he volunteers. After a task is discussed, he immediately performs what he needs to do without waiting for another day. He is a responsible SAF trooper and he is a loss to the unit,” Ramirez said. (PNA)