Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian scored the government for paying lip service to the heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in Mamasapano but failing to give full justice by going all-out against the 90 suspects behind the carnage nine months ago.
Gatchalian made the statement a day after former president Fidel Ramos took a swipe at the Aquino administration for the “great injustice” it is doing to the families of the “Fallen 44,” Ramos founded the SAF when he was chief of the Philippine Constabulary in 1983. The PC was the precursor of the Philippine National Police.
“I fully agree with the observation of FVR that there is no final closure of the Mamasapano incident because of the lack of follow-up or hot pursuit against the 90 persons identified in the criminal case filed by the Department of Justice. The case will just be put to waste if none of the 90 suspects get arrested and undergo trial,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian said then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should have sought the help of all law enforcement agencies as well as the Armed Forces in making sure that all the 90 suspects behind the massacre of SAF commandoes are apprehended so they can have their day in court.
“What good is a criminal case if none of the suspects behind the massacre of the SAF 44 are arrested, put behind bars and undergo trial. Malacañang should have issued a directive ordering the PNP and AFP to help arrest the 90 suspects named by the DOJ,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said there would be no closure on the Mamasapano incident for as long as no justice is rendered to the 44 SAF commandos. And justice calls for the immediate arrest and speedy trial of the 90 suspects who were either members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fight, and private armed groups.
“It would be hard to move on for the families of the SAF 44 and for the entire rank and file of the PNP as long as there is no assurance from no less than the chief executive that justice will be served for the slain SAF commandos. And this the President can do by ordering the arrest of all the 90 suspects,” said Gatchalian.
A group of senior golfers led by Ramos launched the “G Men Golf Club” for amateur golfers in order to raise funds for the orphans of SAF 44 and other orphans of fallen servicemen. There are about 20 children who lost their SAF fathers in the January 25 Mamasapano operation in Maguindanao.
The group aims to raise about P5 million to take care of the needs of the orphans of the SAF 44 who are mostly in grade school. The membership is free and the group aims to hold golf tournaments quarterly. The first tournament is scheduled at the Camp Aguinaldo golf course on Nov. 6.
Gatchalian also expressed his support to the conferment of the much-delayed recognition on members of the 44 slain SAF commandos as well as those who survived the bloody encounter.
Administration and opposition congressmen have earlier sought the conferment of the Medal of Valor to some, if not all of the slain 44 SAF men and the other commandos who survived the highly-dangerous misson to neutralize top international terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman.
“It is but fitting to grant the heroic SAF men of Mamasapano, both the dead and living, the highest award in the PNP for bravery and heroism, over and beyond the call of duty. This will definitely boost the morale of the police force,” said Gatchalian, who represents Valenzuela City’s 1st congressional district.
The Medal of Valor or Medalya ng Kagitingan is the PNP’s highest award for gallantry and bravery. Republic Act 9049 states that a Medal of Valor awardee is entitled to a lifetime monthly gratuity of P20,000. The children of an awardee shall also be given scholarships to the Philippine Military Academy or the Philippine National Police Academy and are given priority if they want to be employed in the government. (R. Burgos)