Escudero proposes trust fund for gov’t forces killed, hurt in action
The creation of a P20-billion trust fund for the soldiers and cops killed or injured in line of duty is being pushed in the Senate.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero has proposed a bill seeking the institutionalization of a trust fund with P20 billion allocation for the active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) killed or wounded in legitimate operations and their beneficiaries.
The Senate Bill No. 1491, or the Comprehensive Social Benefit Program of the Government directs the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to develop and institutionalize the trust fund.
“May sapat tayong pondo. Hinahantay namin ang certification mula sa national treasurer on the availability of funds (There are sufficient funds. We are waiting for the certification from the national treasurer on the availability of funds),” Escudero said at the “Kapihan sa Senado” on Thursday.
The senator said the trust fund will cover the basic needs and education for the dependents of the affected soldiers and cops.
The trust fund will have five types of assistance: full scholarship, financial, shelter, health and medical care, and cost of living.
But the biggest chunk of the P20 billion will be spent for the education of qualified beneficiaries of the slain and wounded military and police personnel.
Aside from the DND and DILG, the board managing the trust fund will include the members of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Finance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Commission on Higher Education, the AFP and the PNP.
Escudero said they decided to expand the coverage of the trust fund, not only for those fighting in Marawi City but for all the government forces risking their lives for the country.
He said all affected government soldiers and cops deserve to receive equal amount of benefits.
The senator then cited the death of 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) in an ill-fated operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015, which has drawn nationwide sympathy as compared to the beheading of 19 Marines soldiers in Al-barka, Basilan in 2007.
“Halimbawa, dahil nauso yung SAF 44, halos lahat na ng benepisyo naibigay sa SAF 44. Pero naalala niyo ‘yung Marines na pinugutan. Hindi gaanong nabigyan ng pansin, dineny pa ng gobyerno nung panahong iyon kaya hindi pareho yung benepisyong natanggap. Medyo unfair din naman siguro ‘yon, namatay parin sila sa paninilbihan at sa larangan ng pagiging sundalo nila. Dapat lamang mabigyan din sila ng karampatang atensiyon, na-TV man o hindi,” he said.
(For example, the SAF 44 became more prominent, so almost all the benefits went to them. But do you remember the Marines that was beheaded? It wasn’t given much attention, the government also denied it at the time so the benefits received weren’t equal. It’s quite unfair, they all died in line of their duty. They should be given proper attention, whether they were given airtime or not.)
Escudero said a counterpart measure will also be filed in the House of Representatives before the session resumes in July. JE
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