The Gallant 44 (SAF44) of the Oplan Exodus or the popularly known as the Mamasapano encounter on January 25, 2015. (PNP-SAF)
The bereaved relatives of the 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) who died during the bloody Mamasapano incident two years ago have one wish.
They wish to achieve: justice for the deaths of their loved ones; promised benefits which are yet to be given, and assurance that the persons involved in the questionable operation, Oplan Exodus, will be held responsible.
“Sir, President, ikaw po ang pinaniniwalaan naming makatutulong sa amin. Ikaw po ang pinaniniwalaan naming makapagbibigay sa amin ng hustisyang matagal na naming inaasam para sa pagkamatay ng aming mga mahal sa buhay. Sir, tulungan po ninyo kami. Alam ko pong matutulungan po ninyo kami,” pleaded Erica Pabalinas, widow of Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas.
“Ang ipinangako pong employment po ng members of families po na until now po, di pa po employed ang iba gaya ko po,” said the widow of PO3 Andres Duque.
However, aside from this, they also want all the SAF 44 be given a medal of valor.
“Bakit, sa SAF 44 troopers, dalawa lamang ang nagawaran ng Medal of Valor? Ano ang pamantayan ng mamatay sa labanan, para ang isa ay magawaran ng medalyang yaon? Paano naman ang iba pang 42 troopers? Hindi ba sila namatay nang lumalaban? O dahil walang makapaglahad ng istorya?” asked John Anniban, father of Senior Inspector Cyrus Anniban.
Under the administration of former president, Noynoy Aquino, only two of the fallen 44 were awarded with medal of valor.
But this time, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to complete within this month, all requirements needed for the granting of valor awards to the rest of the SAF members who died in the botched operation.
“Anyway all the records are there. There is no need for investigations. Look at the records of the Senate and everything. At kung sa tingin mo, bilang isang sundalo, na ang 44 SAF members ay karapat-dapat sa kagitingan, irekomenda mo. At ibibigay ko ito sa lahat na 44. Kasama no’n ang ilang pribilehiyo dahil sa pagkamatay ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay nang naglilingkod sa bayan,” said the President during his speech.
The medal of valor is the highest recognition that can be achieved by a member of the Philippine National Police.
The child of a medal of valor awardee will receive educational scholarship grants, while a P20,000 lifetime monthly pension will be given to surviving families.
Meanwhile, apart from the recognition, President Duterte spromised another thing.
“Magtatakda ako ng isang araw, at ito ay tatawaging “A Day of Remembrance for the SAF 44,” he said. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will head to Cotabato on Tuesday following the clash between soldiers and some members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) over the weekend, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president will meet with the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and government security troops to discuss the incident in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.
“Siya po ay makikipag-ugnayan sa BARMM officials, sa ating kapulisan, sa ating kasundaluhan at pag-uusapan nila kung paano maiiwasan yung insidente nga nung Linggo, kung saan ilang armadong miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nag-occupy ng Datu Paglas pero sandali lang naman iyon at napaalis din sila ng hukbong sandatahan,” Roque said in an online briefing.
“Ang objective po ng Presidente, para iparating ang mensahe na hindi po niya puwedeng pabayaan ang kaniyang katungkulan na ipatupad ang batas,” he added.
On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market but state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.
“Dahil nga po doon sa insidente kung saan ilang miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nagtungo sa Datu Paglas, ang kaniyang mensahe, ang warning niya po talaga, ipatutupad niya ang batas at hindi niya kukunsintihin ang paggamit ng dahas diyan po sa Maguindanao,” Roque said.
The military earlier said that the situation in Datu Paglas has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”
Local officials and residents in Maguindanao were also urged to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the armed group.
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.
During his Talk to the People public address on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.
“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.
The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.
In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.
Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.
“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.
“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.
He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.
“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.”
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.
“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.
Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”
“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.
“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.
Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.
The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.
China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.
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