I’M saying this in the wake of concerns raised by friends from the National Police and the Armed Forces regarding the fate that befell the families of brave soldiers and policemen who have been maimed or killed in the line of duty just like the Fallen 44 from the PNP Special Action Force.
“Alfred, everybody, President Aquino included, must realize that a big number of soldiers and policemen have been maimed or completely paralyzed or worst, killed in combat, in the line of duty since 2010, but none of them received the same attention as that of the Fallen 44,” a police senior superintendent told me on Friday.
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True enough, apart from the customary heroes’ burial and other automatic benefits from the government, none of our soldiers and policemen who have been killed fighting the Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the New People’s Army, and other lawless elements in the country since 2010 were not showered with the same attention given to the Fallen 44.
Apart from regular death benefits and posthumous promotion, I don’t remember any story on families of soldiers and policemen slain in the line of duty receiving so much money from the government and other Good Samaritans since the start of the Aquino administration.
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They include the dozens of Marine and Army troopers killed, some of them beheaded by the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu, the numerous soldiers who have been shot dead or killed by landmines planted by the NPA in the countryside, the latest of them five Army troopers whose vehicle struck an NPA landmine while trying to reinforce a group of policemen whose station was attacked by heavily-armed leftist guerrillas in Davao Oriental.
Or the scores of policemen who have been killed by lawless elements in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and in particular, our hero officers from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the National Capital Region Police Office, and the Highway Patrol Group who have been killed while going after heavily-armed criminals in Metro Manila.
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Another officer-friend told me that these are the questions also hanging in the minds of his fellows from the AFP in particular. I was told that dozens of soldiers who have been killed fighting terrorists and other lawless elements in the countryside, particularly in Mindanao, have not been given the same attention afforded to the 44 SAF troopers.
“Do you think there’s a difference between the Fallen 44 and the other soldiers and policemen who have been killed in combat or in the line of duty?” the officer asked me.
I told him there is none. All of them made the supreme sacrifice just to keep the country safe.
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But years after they were killed or maimed, is there a government agency which can honestly tell us if the widows and children of these many fallen or paralyzed heroes still have a nice home to stay and eat thrice a day? Do their kids still go to school and have not turned into drugs or young rascals? Or if their sick parents still have the money to buy their medicines?
I have been told that there were instances wherein policemen shot dead by criminals were only renting small apartments for their families. After their untimely deaths, were their families provided by the government with decent homes? Were their dependents given the priority to enter government offices or avail themselves of scholarship programs? Can the PNP and the AFP provide answers to these questions?
I would provide some specific examples in my next column.
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In contrast, I have received highly-reliable information that the families of the Fallen 44 have received quite a huge amount of money from the government and other Good Samaritans. Although the money really cannot equal the value of their lives, everything is being done to somehow ease the pain of their loss.
A highly-reliable source told me President Aquino gave P1 million to the dependents of the Fallen 44 although I still have to confirm the information from other sources. Former senator Ping Lacson and his PNP Foundation Inc. gave P300,000 cash to the survivors of each of the 44 slain commandos and P150,000 to each of the 14 wounded SAF troopers.
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Vice President Jojo Binay also gave P100,000 to each of the Fallen 44’s families, members of the House of Representatives, one of them Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, also provided financial assistance to the kin of slain commandos.
Different local government units also did the same, along with Good Samaritans from the Filipino-Chinese community who gave cash to the families of the slain policemen as well as those wounded in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
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I also learned that surviving kin of the slain troopers would receive automatic death benefits ranging from P1.5 million to P2 million. Death benefits for policemen killed in the line of duty include P250,000 from the President’s Social Fund; between P141,000 up to P181,000 as Special Financial Assistance from the PNP; burial benefits worth P50,000 and P200,000 gratuity from the National Police Commission.
PNP members of the Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund are also entitled to death insurance ranging from P225,000 to P417,000 depending on rank.
Those death benefits are on top of the monthly lifetime pension from the PNP ranging from P15,000 to P250,000 depending on rank; and roughly the same amount of pensions from the Napolcom for five years.
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Aside from these financial benefits, PNP is now in the process of computing the unused leave credits of the slain policemen which would be converted into cash to be deposited in their ATM accounts next week. If we would add up that money, they could be easily worth a minimum of P4 million. Add to them the other demands being made by the kin of the Fallen 44 from P-Noy, like housing, permanent employment, lifetime scholarship for their children, and even construction of roads leading to their homes.
Actually, the President’s failure to attend the ceremonies in Villamor Air Base has forced him to make amends with the kin of the Fallen 44, even to the point of promising them the heaven.
“Nagbabawi ang Presidente ‘ika nga. However, these monetary promises are worthless unless the truth and nothing but the truth in the Mamasapano secret mission is revealed in the next few days. The whole country would be watching, Mr. President.