PNP chief Marquez: Families of SAF 44 to continue receiving govt assistance

Members of women's group Gabriela join religious and civil society organizations in forming a human chain along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City on Friday to commemorate the 40 days of the Mamasapano incident. The activity was one of several events calling for peace in Mindanao. (MNS photo)

Members of women’s group Gabriela join religious and civil society organizations in forming a human chain along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City on Friday to commemorate the 40 days of the Mamasapano incident. The activity was one of several events calling for peace in Mindanao. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The families of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in a clash with various armed groups in Mamasapano last January will continue receiving assistance from the government even after the change in the Philippine National Police’s leadership, PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said Tuesday.

Marquez said aid continues to pour in for the police commandos’ family members since he assumed office last week.

“Ang alam ko marami na talagang napaabot sa mga naulila ng SAF 44. Marami pang tulong na parating kasi simula nang ako ay mag-assume as chief PNP, nakakatanggap pa ako ng mga text kung ano ung pamamaraan kung paano sila makakatulong sa pamilya ng SAF 44,” he said.

Marquez was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III earlier this month as the permanent replacement for PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina who retired on July 16.

In accordance with Aquino’s orders, Marquez said the PNP will continue to provide not just financial assistance to the fallen SAF troopers’ families, but also other forms of aid for their children, who might need help with their studies or search for jobs.

“[Kung] sakaling naghahanap sila (mga anak ng SAF 44) ng trabaho at iba pang pangangailangan, ito ay ating binibigyan ng kaukulang pansin,” he said.

Despite the PNP’s focus on ensuring the continuity of assistance for the bereaved families, Marquez assured that the pursuit of justice for the slain SAF troopers is ongoing.

He said he is mindful of Espina’s reminder before his retirement that justice must be served for the fallen police commandos.

Forty-four SAF members were killed when an operation to arrest high-profile tourists resulted in a clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) last Jan. 25.

Almost seven months after the tragedy, however, cases have yet to be filed by the Department of Justice against some 90 members of the MILF, BIFF and private armed groups whom the National Bureau of Investigation had recommended to be criminally charged for the Mamasapano clash. (MNS)

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