Duterte mulls medal of valor for all SAF-44

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said that given his way, he would award the PNP’s Medal of Valor to all 44 Special Action Force commandos who were killed during the infamous Mamasapano secret operation two years ago.

In a speech before loved ones of the fallen police officers in Malacañang, the President said that the highest honor he can give to the gallant officers “who were fed to the lion’s den to be eaten by death” was to award them the Medal of Valor.

To this end, he directed the PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and Interior Undersecretary Catalino Cuy to carefully look into the matter.

“So I am asking Dela Rosa and you guys, Lito, to study the matter very carefully and look that up. You know, if it’s sauce for the gander, it’s also sauce for the goose. I’m directing you now and give me the result within, probably at the end of the month,” the President said.

“There is no need to investigate; the records are all there anyway. And if you think as a soldier that the 44 deserve the Valor, then recommend it and I would give it to them, all of the soldiers, the 44,” Duterte said to applause from the loved ones of the SAF-44.

Parameters for Medal of Valor include gallantry/acts of heroism or heroic acts which means dashing courage and noble-minded behavior and intrepidity which is characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude and endurance in the face of overwhelming enemy force.

Under Republic Act 9049, a Medal of Valor awardee gets a monthly gratuity of Php 20,000 separate and distinct from any salary or pension.

In the event of death of the awardee, the same shall accrue in equal shares and with the right of accretion to the surviving spouse until she remarries and to the children, legitimate or adopted or illegitimate until they reach the age of 18 or until they marry.

The gratuity shall not be included in the computation of gross income and shall be exempt from taxation.

The bereaved families of the 44 SAF troopers have been asking why only two commandos were awarded the Medal of Valor by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Besides looking into this, Duterte also promised the families that he would set a day of remembrance for the troopers.

“I will set a day. It will be known as ‘A Day of Remembrance’ for the SAF-44,” Duterte said to another round of applause.

The President also announced that he will set up a commission to find the truth about the Mamasapano clash.

“I will create a commission of seven like the Agrava Commission during the time of (Ferdinand) Marcos. I will appoint men of integrity and honor. If possible, then I will choose mostly the justices of the Supreme Court, maybe a few from the civilian sector, maybe a lawyer,” Duterte said.

President Duterte said that the said Commission could come out with the truth before the end of the year. Cielito Reganit/PNA-northboundasia.com