Housing, education, jobs for kin of SAF 44
MANILA, Philippines–Housing. Livelihood. Education for the children. Skills training.
These were the requests to the government made by the families of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were killed in the Jan. 25 operation against international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.
Basic and practical, the wishes reflect how the families, shattered by the loss of their loved ones, choose to pick up the pieces.
Many, if not all of the SAF troopers, were the breadwinners of their families.
The family of PO2 Noble Kiangan asked for a wheelchair and maintenance medicine for their brother, Jess, who suffered from a spinal injury in a work-related accident.
The Department of Health (DOH) also provided assistance to the parents of the slain commandos who were suffering from various ailments.
The mother of PO2 Rodel Ramacula asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) at the Feb. 18 welfare program at Camp Crame for the concreting of the feeder road in their village.
Helen Ramacula also asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to repair the elementary school in their village, which had been damaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” Typhoon “Ruby” and Tropical Storm “Seniang.”
The unborn children of PO3 John Lloyd Sumbilla and Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi are already on the list of 36 legitimate children of the SAF troopers who are entitled to the scholarship program of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), covering kindergarten to college.
Raechel June Sumbilla, 33, and Lhea Tabdi, 27, are six months pregnant with their first children. They will receive assistance from the DOH for their prenatal visits and delivery.
Ten-month-old Glendel Bedua, only child of PO2 Glenn Bedua, will receive the same educational benefits. The same goes for 4-month-old Nathanie, only son of PO3 Andres Duque.
From well-placed government sources, the Inquirer obtained two documents on the assistance provided to the 44 SAF families. One is 64 pages, detailing the different kinds of assistance. The other is a summary of assistance that includes how much each kind of help amounts to.
Last week, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the families of the civilians killed in the crossfire were being taken care of by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The documents obtained by the Inquirer also showed that a number of families have asked the government to help the commandos’ young nephews and nieces, as well as their in-laws and cousins—education for the young ones and employment for the adults.
The government approved the requests for the extended family members.
“While most of the assistance… are given to the next of kin, the government also provides assistance to relatives (siblings, nephews, nieces etc.) who were dependents of the fallen SAF troopers, and those who personally requested assistance from the President,” another document obtained by the Inquirer from a Malacañang source said.
President Aquino was informed of the requests to provide educational assistance.
The educational assistance for the nephews and nieces was suggested to Aquino when he went unannounced to Camp Crame on Feb. 18, where a one-stop welfare services program was being held for the SAF families.
Since the National Police Commission (Napolcom) provides scholarships only for the legitimate children of policemen, the President’s Social Fund (PSF) will shoulder the educational assistance for the young nephews and nieces, according to the document.
The PSF educational assistance for 46 SAF nephews and nieces in elementary and high school amounts to P28.88 million, to be administered by the Napolcom. The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) will provide assistance to the relatives in college.
Three of the widows can continue with their education.
Haslyn Acob, wife of PO3 Rodrigo Acob, can enroll in a university to complete her legal management studies while also working at the school.
She has also requested assistance to put up a bakeshop, to provide for her now fatherless children, aged 12 and four.
Kristine Clemencio, 30, wife of PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio, will also receive assistance from the CHEd for her employment in a university, which would also be “exploring opportunities for her to pursue her doctorate degree on a scholarship at an accredited institution.”
Aurelyn Kayob, wife of PO2 Jerry Kayob, also expressed her wish to pursue her master’s degree in elementary education. The Kayobs have a 9-year-old son.
Some families also asked President Aquino to help siblings of some of the police officers who either want to work or study abroad. One asked the government for assistance in getting a visa to Canada should her
employment there materialize.
Since Senior Insp. John Garry Erana was single, his parents asked for their inclusion in the Napolcom’s Survivorship Pension, which gives pension only to spouses of personnel killed in action.
President Aquino, according to the document, instructed the Napolcom to “review their policy on the Survivorship Pension based on Republic Act No. 6963.”
The father of Senior Insp. John Anniban asked for 25 native chickens and three pigs while the father of PO2 Noel Balaca Jr., a fisherman, was given a 9-meter fiber glass fishing boat and P5,000 for the construction of the boat’s outriggers, among his other needs.
The procurement of a carabao for the family of PO1 Russell Bilog is also under way.
The father of Senior Insp. Joey Gamutan received a cow on Feb. 9. The Department of Agriculture is committed to conducting weekly visits to the family “to provide assistance on animal health activities.”
There were also requests for sari-sari stores and a mini-grocery.
Most, if not all, the families of the slain commandos asked for housing assistance. The National Housing Authority (NHA) said it would complete some of the houses by May this year.
The housing assistance for all 44 families amounts to P300,000.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will provide free skills training to 23 relatives of the slain commandos, including brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and cousins.
Requests for employment of 61 relatives are being processed: six teachers by the DepEd; five nurses by DOH; six for PNP enlistment; six for PNP nonuniformed personnel; one for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) enlistment; “while the rest are being processed by DOLE and other concerned agencies,” one of the documents showed.
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