Aquino apologized to families of soldiers killed in Basilan – witness
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Aquino apologized to the families of the 18 soldiers who were killed in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tipo-Tipo Basilan on Saturday.
“He said sorry. He said he was here to say sorry and to give assistance,” Rosalinda Dominguez, the aunt of Private First Class Doreen Aspurias, said after meeting with the President inside the Edwin Andrews Air Base here Wednesday afternoon.
Dominguez said most of the families who met with Mr. Aquino asked why it took so long to rescue the members of the 44th Infantry Battalion.
She said the President told them that rescue troops could not immediately enter the battle site because of the intense fighting at that time.
“Kasi may bakbakan. Hanggang ngayon may bakbakan pa (Because there was fighting. Until now, fighting goes on),” Dominguez quoted the President as saying.
Dominguez said she accepted Mr. Aquino’s “sincere apology.”
Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said the President came to this city to “personally sympathize” with the families of those who died.
“Pumunta rin sya para magbigay pugay sa mga naulilang asawa ng mga kasundaluhan. Ipinaabot din niya ang tulong (He came to express his condolences to and pay respect to the widows of the soldiers. He also extended help),” Bautista said.
According to Barrientos, the families of the 18 slain soldiers will each get P250,000 from the Office of the President, a remuneration of their base pay (roughly about P180,000), P50,000 from the MBAI (Mutual Benefit Association Inc.), P100,000 from the insurance and P80,000 as burial assistance.
“A team from the Presidential Management staff is talking to the families, writing down their other concerns and needs,” Barrientos said.
President Aquino also visited the wounded soldiers at the Don Basilio Navarro hospital here. SFM
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