• Roxas: PNP, Napolcom to study SAF concerns

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    FIGHT FOR FALLEN 44 In commemoration of the 40th day of the Mamasapano massacre, a militant student wears a black veil as a sign of protest. Students staged an indignation rally in Manila on Friday to press for justice for the Fallen 44. PHOTO BY M ELYN ACOSTA

    FIGHT FOR FALLEN 44 In commemoration of the 40th day of the Mamasapano massacre, a militant student wears a black veil as a sign of protest. Students staged an indignation rally in Manila on Friday to press for justice for the Fallen 44. PHOTO BY M ELYN ACOSTA

    THE Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Police Commission (Napolcom) will look into complaints aired by members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) during their meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on March 4.

    Interior Secretary Manuel  Roxas 2nd said in a statement on Friday that the PNP and Napolcom were given 30 days to study the complaints.

    “This means that these complaints have already passed the PNP and the Napolcom before they reach the Office of the President within 30 days,” Roxas noted.

    President Aquino met with SAF officers at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City (Metro Manila) before the turnover ceremony on March 4 for the installation of the new PNP-SAF Commander, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo.

    Roxas said that during the meeting, PNP-SAF officers expressed to the President some of their needs or complaints, which include training, equipment, hazard pay and vacation leave.

    “SAF troops are staying much longer in the area where they are assigned and the rotations are lost. SAF [members are]100 percent alert all the time, which means they don’t have any leave, no vacation, no stand-down,” he added.

    Roxas said the SAF officers also asked for tactical helicopters, artillery and other modern equipment needed by an elite anti-terror unit, on top of an increase in hazard pay.

    According to him, the President  is committed to improve the plight of the SAF, being the premiere task force of the PNP, as he justified the appointment of Lazo as new SAF commander.

    “The PNP-SAF is a unique and specialized unit. And [it is]given the most dangerous and delicate missions. You cannot just assign  a simple and an ordinary official there,” Roxas said.

    He added that Lazo is a former SAF commando who rose from the ranks, and was designated as chief of SAF Directorial Staff before being assigned as head of the PNP Firearms and Explosive Division.

    A SAF officer, who declined to be named, also on Friday belied media reports that the elite troops during Wednesday’s meeting also  asked Aquino to resign over the Mamasapano carnage.

    “Nothing like that had happened… the boys will not do that even if they are ‘dismayed’ with the President… they are professionals,” the SAF officer said.

    Meanwhile, the military chief, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., is reportedly pushing for the awarding of the Medal of Valor for the “Fallen 44.”

    Chief Supt. Genereso Cerbo Jr., PNP chief information officer, said in a news briefing that they have no qualms on a proposal of the military chief to give the highest honor to the fallen police commandos.

    “This will have to be deliberated first by the Special Promotions and Awards and Decorations Board (SPADB) of the PNP,” Cerbo added.

    The PNP deputy chief for administration heads SPADB, with the head of the PNP Directorate for Personnel Records and Management (DPRM) as the board secretariat.

    Under the law, recipients of the country’s highest military honor are entitled to benefits such as a lifetime monthly pension of P20,000 for beneficiaries, and their children are entitled to free schooling in college under government expenses.

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