21 February 2015

Government agencies working together to make sure fallen SAF dependents get state assistance, says Palace
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Trade and Industry, like other government agencies, will also assist the families of the 44 slain police SAF commandos, the Palace said on Saturday.

Officials of the DSWD and DTI accompanied President Aquino when he met the families of the police commandos in Camp Crame on Wednesday this week, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.

“Ang DSWD ay nandoon para naman sa livelihood assistance nila at nandoon din po ang DTI para tingnan at matulungan sila to find out kung saan ang areas of residence nila at kung ano ‘yung mga negosyo na puwedeng masimulan doon sa kanilang mga lugar,” Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

Officials from the Department of Health were also present to determine what medical assistance could be extended to the relatives, she said. PhilHealth officials were also there to ensure the continued membership of the dependents of the SAF troopers.

But apart from that, the Palace official said the government also continues to address specific requests from the families.

“‘Ang iba pong pamilya nag-request po sila ng tulong doon sa pag-process ng SSS (Social Security System) benefits. Mayroon pong mga nag-request ng farming or fishing equipment apart from the assistance that has been given,” Valte said.

Some of the relatives requested for the transfer of other family members who are already in the armed services from one unit to another, Valte added.

The National Housing Authority is also actively coordinating with the relatives to provide their housing needs.

The Department of Labor and Employment is also working with the families for skills matching for eventually finding employment for family members who want jobs.

For those who are not in the working age, the Technical Education Skills Development Authority is offering different training programs, according to Valte.

For their educational needs, the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are working to grant them scholarships, Valte reported.

The President also instructed the Office of the Executive Secretary to provide a mechanism to extend educational assistance to the relatives of the 44 SAF commandos, she added.

In terms of monetary assistance given to the relatives of the fallen SAF troopers, the government has so far extended P250,000 for each families of the dead policemen from the President’s Social Fund, Valte said. PND (as)

Alleged government purchase of guns captured by MILF from SAF commandos baseless, says government
The government said it is dismayed by recent reports saying the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process purchased the firearms surrendered by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this week.

The MILF returned 16 high-powered firearms confiscated by the group in the battlefield in Mamasapano in Maguindanao following a deadly clash in January 25.

“The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is very disappointed at the allegations that have been made by Father Eliseo Mercado that the government purchased the weapons to make it appear that the MILF was returning it to the government,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

“We do not have any information on the basis of Father Mercado for saying those statements,” Valte said in the interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

Father Mercado, an expert on Muslim affairs in Southeast Asia and southern Philippines, said he received information saying the weapons returned by the MILF were actually purchased by the government from the rebel group.

It was reported that few days after the bloody encounter, some groups in Maguindanao were allegedly selling the weapons captured from dead SAF commandos. The police said it is a crime to buy or own firearms from government arsenal.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which was also involved in the encounter, said it captured 10 high-powered guns from the fallen SAF men. It said it has no intention of surrendering the weapons.

The MILF said it returned the firearms to show goodwill to the government as they craft a lasting solution to Mindanao’s security problems. PND (as)

Government to scrutinize tuition fee hike applications of universities, colleges
The Palace made an assurance on Saturday that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will scrutinize tuition fee hike applications of universities and colleges wanting to adjust their tuition fees.

“Sasalain nang mabuti ng CHED ito sa ilalim ni Chair Patricia Licuanan kung nararapat silang magbigay ng pagtaas doon sa kanilang tuition fee,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

CHED is set to release the actual list sometime in April or May, she added.

Valte also said that CHED will make sure that colleges and universities that have signified their intention to increase their tuition fees should be able to comply with the guidelines and rules set by CHED.

“So we should expect the final list. I understand that there’s a number floating around, 400 daw, pero ito siguro ‘yung mga nag-apply o mag-a-apply pa lang at hindi ibig sabihin ay aprubado na ng CHED ‘yung mga increase na ‘yan,” she added. PND (as)