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‘SAF44? officer’s widow: Still no promised scholarships from gov’t

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ZAMBOANGA City, July 2, 2015 –- During what would have been Special Action Forces (SAF) member Police Chief Inspector Ryan C. Pabalinas 32nd birthday, on July 1, his widow lamented the slow pace of government assistance to those left behind by the Fallen 44, saying their children have yet to receive the scholarships promised to them.

26-year old Erika Pabalinas said scholarships for their children were offered to them but they have remained empty-handed even after contacting the appropriate agencies.

"We have been forgotten," Mrs. Erika Pabalinas says. In an interview, she said other issues have overtaken the PNP-SAF 44 incident as national elections draw near. She called on government to make good on its promise to help them. Despite the financial assistance extended to them, they hope the promised scholarships would be given the qualified beneficiaries soon. (Photo: Melo M. Acuña)

“Why haven’t the scholarships been awarded to them?” she asked in Filipino.

Grieving families’ needs

After a simple ceremony where Claretian missionary Fr. Angel Angeles blessed the small mausoleum of Pabalinas at the Forest Lake Memorial Park in the suburban part of this city, Mrs. Pabalinas also revealed the slain SAF members’ families have began receiving their pension and other benefits but have yet to receive part
of the donations from other agencies and associations because the government has yet to formulate guidelines on how to distribute the funds now deposited in a bank.

She called on the government to be careful regarding statements mentioning specific amounts being given to them, amounts which they have not received, as it causes misunderstandings.

However, she remains hopeful the government will do its best “to learn from mistakes” and attend to the bereaved families’ needs.

Mrs. Pabalinas added they have been told to wait and they will.

Clad in black, the police officer’s widow also said the issues surrounding the Mamasapano massacre have taken the backseat due to the upcoming polls.

Forgotten?

“What happened last January has been forgotten and buried under issues related to the coming elections and the media and public’s attention is focused on politics,” she said in Filipino.

Asked by CBCP News to comment on the progress of the investigation into the Mamasapano incident made by various agencies, Mrs. Pabalinas said she is no longer optimistic anything concrete will come out of it. She added she is leaving it to the Aquino government to settle the issues surrounding
the PNP-SAF 44′s deaths.

Mrs. Pabalinas said her fellow widows and their orphans cannot understand why the Aquino administration continues to push
for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which has remained pending in both Houses of Congress.

Recovering from grief

Erika, who hails from Basilan, said she still misses her husband and gets moral support from their three-year-old daughter, Camille.

The widow said she still “cannot accept” the tragic incident though she said she is slowly recovering from grief.

She, Camille, and other relatives marked the day with a 6:00 a.m. Mass at the Carmelite Monastery with Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel “Beng”
Climaco who also brought flowers for the late police officer.

It can be recalled the late police officer was one of 44 who died during the botched operation to capture Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as Marwan last January 25 at Takunalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao. (Melo M. Acuña/CBCPNews)


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