PNP assures continuous aid for SAF 44 kin

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has assured continuous aid for the families of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who died in an encounter with local and foreign terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao four years ago.

“As so far as the PNP is concerned, we believe that we have already complied with their concern. We believe that we already gave their respective benefits but we are open to any complaint,” Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, told reporters on Friday.

Banac also noted that the government remains committed to addressing the concerns of the bereaved families.

“Hindi natin pababayaan ang mga pamilya ng SAF 44. Committed diyan ang ating pamunuan lalo na ang ating Pangulo at chief PNP. Nariyan pa rin tayo para umalalay sa kanila. Tutulong tayo sa pakikipag-koordinasyon sa iba’t-ibang mga ahensya ng gobyerno, baka sakali may benepisyo pa na maibibigay sa kanila (We will not abandon the families of the SAF 44. This is the commitment of the leadership, especially the President and the PNP chief. We are still here to aid them. We will help them coordinate with various government agencies, just in case there are still benefits to be given to them),” he said.

Banac made the statement after Helen Ramacula, mother of slain PO2 Rodel Ramacula, said she has yet to fully receive the financial livelihood program that was promised to them, four years after the tragic incident.

Ramacula claimed that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has yet to give the remaining 30 percent of the livelihood assistance worth PHP300,000.

“It has been four years and we still haven’t received the second grant. We only got the first grant,” Ramacula said in Filipino.

She said other beneficiaries are experiencing the same problem, noting that she has already complied with the requirements of DSWD, such as submitting documents and other necessary papers for the grant.

“There’s no fixed date on when we will receive the money. We previously received the money unexpectedly. It’s up to them (DSWD) because they have the money and we are just waiting to receive it. We are still expecting because we have papers,” she said.

The Jan. 25, 2015 operation, where the SAF 44 were killed, aimed to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was also killed.

On Feb. 21, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 164 declaring January 25 as National Day of Remembrance in honor of the heroic death of the SAF 44. (PNA)