Palace assures continued assistance to families of Fallen 44

By Joann Santiago

MANILA, Feb. 14 (PNA) — Malacanang on Saturday said help continue to pour in to families left behind by the “Fallen 44”, members of the police’s elite force who died while on a mission to arrest terrorists hiding in Mindanao.

In a statement Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said “all available mechanisms of the national government are in motion to ensure the well-being of the families.”

He said families of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) have been provided monetary assistance from President Benigno Aquino III’s Social Fund.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are also coordinating with the families for skills matching of working-age members and for training of those who want to undergo a TESDA program.

Children of the SAF commandos, who are in the elementary and secondary levels, are covered under the National Police Commission’s (NAPOLCOM) existing scholarship program while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will take care of the educational needs of those in the college level, Lacierda said.

Likewise, the Office of the Executive Secretary will be recommending a mechanism to provide educational assistance to dependents not covered by the NAPOLCOM or CHED programs through the President’s Social Fund.

Lacierda said government agencies that can provide jobs to the SAF members’ families have been in touch, with some already providing employment.

“The government is also reaching out to the private sector to recommend the employment of relatives of the SAF troopers,” he said.

Livelihood assistance is now underway as the DSWD helps the families “determine the best path for them” while the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is “studying the respective areas of residence of the families to see which businesses are feasible.”

The Department of Health (DOH) is also currently conducting diagnostic procedures to the policemen’s family members who requested for tests while PhilHealth is now studying ways to ensure the dependents’ continued membership.

Requests for assistance for Social Security System’s (SSS) benefit claims, for fishing and farming equipment, for facilitating transfer of relatives in the uniformed service as well as housing needs are currently being looked into.

“The national government will continue working until we have made sure that the futures of the bereaved families secured,” Lacierda said.