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GMA donates P8-M to finance education of soldiers’ children

- Jose Rodel Clapano -
President Arroyo donated yesterday P8 million from her Social Fund to the Hero’s Foundation to help finance the education program for children of soldiers killed or wounded in action.

Mrs. Arroyo made the announcement during her keynote speech delivered yesterday during the ceremony for the change of command in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, where former Southern Command (Southcom) chief Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu was installed as the new AFP chief of staff, replacing Gen. Diomedio Villanueva.

The President said that the welfare of the families of soldiers, who were either killed or wounded in action, was in her administration’s list of priorities.

"This is one program that General Cimatu will pursue vigorously as he has mentioned in his inauguration speech. To set our new chief of staff to a good start, the President’s Social Fund –I am announcing today –is donating P8 million ... to help educate and rear (the) orphan foundation," she said.

The Hero Foundation was organized in 1989 by a group of businessmen to support the education of the children of soldiers killed or permanently disabled during armed conflict.

Mrs. Arroyo said the Hero Foundation has so far supported 1,439 scholars.

"The Hero Foundation needs a fresh infusion of funds to support the growing number of school age orphans of our military personnel. So I am here and I would like to ask the president of Hero Foundation –he is a PMAer –to receive my first release of P4 million," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo also thanked Foundation chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala and members of the board, including her former Executive Secretary Renato de Villa "who is right now abroad, for his tireless effort to help our soldiers and their families."

She said that her administration has a continuing effort to extend relief and rehabilitation to all soldiers in the form of services and material means.

"We must also continue to focus on our programs of modernization, and expanding the size of our armed forces is part of our modernization efforts," she said.

The President added that she has already authorized Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes to work towards the AFP modernization, particularly the upgrading of soldiers’ benefits.

"Modernization of the AFP also includes the upgrading of our soldiers’ benefits. I have certified as urgent the administration bill raising our soldiers’ salaries to the same level as (that of) public school teachers," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said that Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on national defense, had sent her a note saying that the basic salary adjustment bill for soldiers "will probably be passed before the end of May."

"So, they are not in the period of individual amendments," she said.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

DEFENSE SECRETARY ANGELO REYES

DIOMEDIO VILLANUEVA

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RENATO

FOUNDATION

GENERAL CIMATU

HERO FOUNDATION

MRS. ARROYO

SOCIAL FUND

SOLDIERS

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