Kin of soldiers fighting for the country are heroes, too

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet —  In every war, there are casualties who emerge as heroes. They are given medals for bravery, for gallantry and for their heroism.

These soldiers’ spouses, children, parents and siblings are also heroes in their own right for being brave enough to let go of their loved ones who are involved in the country’s national defense or police operations.

Edna Tabdi, mother of Senior Inspector Gednat Tabdi, the Special Action Force (SAF) trooper who was killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 is a hero, fighting for the battle of the 44 families who lost a loved one on that unfortunate day.

Her son is one of the two SAF troopers who were awarded the Medal of Valor by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Edna has three other sons who are in the police service. Of the three, one is also a SAF trooper like Gednat.

The Tabdi family has 15 other members who are with the Philippine National Police and a few with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, many of whom are assigned in Mindanao.

Despite the pain of always trying to recall the tragic events, Edna talked about losing a child and attaining the justice they’ve been fighting for.

“Yun lang makakapagpatahimik sa akin, dun lang ako makaka move-on (That is the only way I can have peace of mind and move on),” she said.

“Patuloy kaming lumalaban and lalaban sa giyera sa korte. Hindi kami titigil hanggat ‘di napaparusahan ang dapat parusahan sa pagkamatay ng anak ko at iba pang miyembro ng SAF 44(We will continue to fight the battle in court until those responsible for the death of my son and the other members of SAF 44 are made answerable),” she added.

Edna’s son, Gednat, was apparently the one who shot and killed Zulkifli Binhir, also known as “Marwan” — an international bomb expert on the wanted list of the United States for various bombing incidents in Mindanao and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Edna added that her son died at around 4:30 p.m. on that day, more than 12 hours after the start of the operation.

After more than two years, the battle of the families continues without any clear date when it would end.

Questions continue to hound Edna’s mind: “Siguro kung may reinforcement na dumating hindi ako nangungulila ngayon, hindi nawalan ng asawa ang manugang ko, hindi naipanganak na walang tatay ang apo ko (If only the reinforcement came, I would not be feeling the loneliness of losing a son, my daughter-in-law will not be a widow and my grandson will not be born without a father),” she said.

Gednat married Lea in October 2014. Lea was seven months pregnant with their first child when her husband died.

While Edna tries to divert her attention by making herself busy selling at the souvenir shop at the strawberry field that was given as an assistance to her by non-government organization BIBAK, her daughter-in-law and grandson are also battling the loneliness of losing Gednat.

The family makes it a point to visit Gednat’s grave every weekend to remind the orphaned child of his father’s gallantry.

Losing a loved one is never easy, Edna lamented. “Mahirap matanggap para sa isang ina (It’s not easy to accept especially for a mother),” she realized.

The battle continues as Edna and Lea try to move on by strengthening their faith and spirituality.

Edna is a hero in her own right for raising Gednat and three other children who have pledged their services to the country.

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