BAGUIO CITY – An opposition lawmaker here slammed the Aquino administration for its continuous failure to release all the benefits of the family members and relatives of the 44 fallen Special Action Force (SAF) heroes who were brutally massacred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, saying that depriving the beneficiaries of their benefits while railroading the approval of the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is considered injustice to them.
Leyte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who was in town to turnover assistance to the SAF beneficiaries at the Baguio Country Club, said lawmakers had been receiving numerous complaints from the beneficiaries of the fallen SAF heroes on the difficulty of working out the release of the benefits due their departed love ones despite having complied with all the documentary requirements.
“Concerned government agency officials should use their discretion in deciding the release of the benefits of the SAF heroes and not for them to burden them with tedious requirements that would result to heavy expenses on their part,” Romualdez stressed.
The Leyte lawmaker disclosed reliable information showed family members and relatives of the fallen SAF heroes were only able to receive some P250,000 initially released by the concerned government agencies to ease their grief from the loss of their love ones but the additional benefits were never released to them after the lapse of the four months period.
According to him, beneficiaries of the SAF members complained over the difficulty of processing the scholarships of their dependents because of the tedious requirements and processes that they have to undergo when in fact, concerned government officials have the discretion of being lenient to allow the beneficiaries to have their dependents pursue their education.
Romualdez cited railroading the BBL is simply rewarding the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to have control of a huge territory when in fact, justice to the fallen SAF has not yet been accorded through the filing of murder charges against those who were already identified to have perpetrated the ambush of the SAF who were in the area to perform the function of arresting want wanted national terrorists seeking haven in the territory of the MILF.
“The approval of the BBL simply means we are tolerating the illegal activities of the MILF and virtually abandoning their liability against the SAF heroes who were doing their job in line of duty inside the territory of the MILF which should not be the case,” Romualdez added.
He asserted filing of charges against those who murdered the SAF heroes coupled with their subsequent arrest would be a giant step towards achieving peace in Mindanao but doing the reverse in railroading the approval of the pending BBL will deprive the heroes of their desired justice.
Romualdez cited the BBL is not the ultimate solution to peace and development in Mindanao because the numerous tribes in Mindanao were not actually consulted on the BBL as evidenced by the testimonies of tribal leaders before the Senate committee on local government chaired by Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and other armed groups like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BFF) were also not consulted on the proposed law. By Dexter A. See