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Palace denies SAF 44 widows’ allegations of neglect

22 January 2016 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
Family members of the SAF 44 are prayed over by churchgoers at the close of the mass on Sunday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church in Claret School in Quezon City. Relatives and supporters of the slain troopers in Mamasapano held a memorial march Sunday from Cavite. (MNS Photo)

Family members of the SAF 44 are prayed over by churchgoers at the close of the mass on Sunday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church in Claret School in Quezon City. Relatives and supporters of the slain troopers in Mamasapano held a memorial march Sunday from Cavite. (MNS Photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Wednesday denied the claims of widows of two Special Action Force (SAF) commandos that their family have yet to receive the financial assistance promised to them by the government.

In a statement sent by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., he said all mandatory benefits had been released by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as of April last year.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos earlier raised the complaints of Virgie Viernes and Merlyn Gamutan that they have yet to receive the aid pledged by the government.

Marcos said such complaints justify the reopening of the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano incident.

Coloma said the Viernes family, which includes the victim’s wife, parents and sister, received a total of P1.3 million; while the Gamutan family, which includes the victim’s wife, father, in-laws, and niece, got 2.6 million.

He said all concerned government agencies have acted on the requests from the kin of the SAF 44 upon the directive of President Benigno Aquino III.

“The government has given extensive assistance to the families of the members of the PNP SAF who were killed in action on January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao,” said Coloma.

“Contrary to published reports, the families of the late Police Senior Inspector Joey Gamutan and Police Officer 1 Oliebeth Viernes have received all the mandatory benefits. Moreover, members of their immediate family and other relatives have also been assisted with respect to their individual requests,” he said.

Both amounts cover the PNP Special Financial Assistance, commutation of accumulated leave credits, PNP monthly and back-earned pensions, NAPOLCOM burial and gratuity assistance, NAPOLCOM monthly and back-earned pensions, Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund, Inc, and the financial assistance from the President’s Social Fund amounting to PhP250,000.00 per family.

Forty-four members of the SAF were killed during a police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which was meant to neutralize high-profile terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

The mission turned bloody after the troops were engaged in a gunfight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, its splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and members of some private armed groups. (MNS)

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