STAR’s fund drive nears P1 M
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine STAR’s fundraiser for the families of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) members who fought and died in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao received new donations yesterday, bringing the total amount to P950,000.

Dubbed as #ASaluteToThe44, the two-day fund has gained ground to provide the families of the 44 heroes with more than P20,000 each in endowment.

New donations totaling P250,000 were received yesterday from House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (P200,000) and CATS Motors president Felix Ang (P50,000).

Operation Damayan, the social arm of The Philippine STAR Media Group, is handling the fund and will directly turn over the money to the families left behind by the men in uniform who died in valor.

STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte said The STAR will continue to accept donations to #SalutetoThe44 until next week.

Donations may be deposited to The Philippine STAR Operation Damayan savings account no. 151-7-15152422-9 c/o Metrobank Aduana branch. To confirm, please email deposit slip to damayan@philstar.com.ph or fax to 527-6857.

Congress, DSWD, Erap to give aid

The House of Representatives is also aiming to raise nearly P3 million for the families of the members of PNP-SAF.

“We have 290 members. At a minimum voluntary contribution of P10,000 each, I think we can raise at least P2.9 million,” Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, accounts committee chairman, said yesterday.

Madrona, Speaker Belmonte, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales ll and Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora filed Resolution 1865 last Friday.

The “Saturday group” of former military and police officers-turned congressmen introduced a similar resolution.

The measures seek voluntary contributions of at least P10,000 through a salary deduction.

Though the financial assistance is voluntary on the part of House members, Madrona said he has no doubt that all of his colleagues would respond positively to their call.

“As in the past, we have helped those who needed our help. We will try to assist the families of our SAF heroes, who are constituents of several of our members,” he said.

He said he is sure that such members in their own way are assisting their constituents.

Two congressmen who have provincemates among the dead SAF troopers are Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao.

Thirteen of the 44 are from the Cordillera region, at least four are from Cagayan Valley, one from Bicol and two from Zamboanga del Sur.

“If we still have the Priority Development Assistance Fund, helping them would be a lot easier. PDAF was the source of burial, hospitalization, transportation, scholarship and livelihood assistance for our constituents,” Evardone said.

In November 2013, the Supreme Court, which had ruled that the PDAF was constitutional in at least two previous cases, flip-flopped and declared the fund unconstitutional.

Evardone urged agencies that have inherited PDAF appropriations to do their share in helping the families of the PNP-SAF.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development promised yesterday that it would provide livelihood, educational support and psychological counseling to the bereaved families of SAF members.

Other forms of assistance, which will be determined from the counseling sessions, will also be given to them, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will also give P100,000 to each of the families of SAF members, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno announced yesterday.

“The heroism rendered by the slain SAF members is priceless compared to what they did to protect our communities from terrorist,” Moreno said.

SAF posthumously promoted

The families of the SAF members would also receive more financial aid from the PNP and the Fallen 44 would be posthumously promoted to the next higher rank.

PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said he already approved, for endorsement to the National Police Commission (Napolcom), the recommendation of the PNP Special Promotion Awards and Decorations Board to confer meritorious promotion to the SAF members.

With this promotion, all financial benefits and pension due to the commandos’ surviving relatives would be computed based on the salary scale of their new ranks, Espina explained.

He also announced the availability of PNP educational benefits to qualified dependents of the SAF. The PNP scholarship program is funded by revenue from gun licenses and permits collected by the PNP.

The PNP said surviving kin of the slain policemen are also entitled to receive death benefits from P1.5 million to P2 million.

Death benefits for policemen killed in line of duty include P250,000 from the President’s Social Fund; P141,000 up to P181,000 as Special Financial Assistance from the PNP; burial benefits worth P50,000; and P200,000 gratuity from the Napolcom. With Jess Diaz, Mike Frialde, Raymund Catindig, Pia Lee Brago

BEN EVARDONE OF EASTERN SAMAR AND TEDDY BAGUILAT OF IFUGAO CAGAYAN VALLEY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL LEONARDO ESPINA ELEANDRO JESUS MADRONA FAMILIES MEMBERS OPERATION DAMAYAN PNP SAF
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