Last Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, the nation remembered the worst carnage in the country’s police history. No, not the police mowing down groups of criminals but instead the 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) being mercilessly mowed down by bullets of Moro rebels. The scene of the bloody incident was barangay Tumalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. It happened four years ago.
There were over 20 other people who were also killed in that encounter including the Malaysian bomb expert Marwan and some of the Moro rebels who attacked the SAF that were tasked to arrest the foreign terrorist.
Sadly, the commemoration of the mass slaying of members of the elite police force has been getting more painful over the years for the families of the victims. This is because until now they believe the deaths of their relatives have not been given justice. It has stuck in their minds that those responsible for the botched operation are not yet brought to the bar of justice.
In statements the victims’ relatives have made since the bloody incident until today, it can easily be discerned that they feel there was failure in compliance of protocol in doing such a critical operation.
And they laid their blame up to the highest level of command hierarchy in the Philippine National Police — the then President of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the then suspended PNP Director General Allan Purisima. The latter was tasked by the President to plan and oversee its execution to arrest Marwan ignoring the then acting PNP Director General Espina.
But it’s been four years already and there is not much development as to the cases filed against those who were tagged as responsible, not even with the commitment of President Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the deliberation of the cases.
We are hoping that the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law which is a product of a long and tedious process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, would be considered an acceptable long-term moral justice for the victims’ relatives.
Yes, while its benefits may not be felt internally or externally by the victims’ relatives, the prevalence of a long-term peace once the agreement becomes operational with the BOL approval, is likely to benefit the millions of people in Muslim Mindanao, Christians and Moro alike.
Maybe this will allow the souls of those who died in the Mamasapano carnage to rest in total peace. And in the process this will also slowly settle the minds of the victims’ relatives.
During last Friday’s edition of the Mike Enriquez-hosted radio-television program over GMA News TV “Ikaw na Ba?” senatorial interview, we learned of a rejected proposal to establish a Teachers Cooperative Bank. This was disclosed by senatorial candidate Antonio “Butch” Valdez, a first time candidate who was the interviewee with fellow candidate Chel Diokno, Dean of La Salle College of Law.
He was responding to a question by Cebuano broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro how he would address the problem of teachers buried in debts both with legal and illegal lending companies and individuals.
According to Valdez during his time as Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) he pushed for the setting up of a Teachers Cooperative Bank to be capitalized by the government with a sum of P2 billion. It is in that bank that the teachers all over the country are to borrow money for their needs. Being a cooperative bank the teacher members will get rebates from the amount of interest they paid of their loan. They are also entitled to dividends from the income of the bank.
Unfortunately, according to Valdez, Congress where they forwarded their proposal for proper legislative support for the creation of the cooperative bank and for seed capital allocation, ignored the idea. So, Valdez claimed, it remains an idea put in paper and now hidden in the deepest recesses of the DepEd’s cabinets.
Personally, we believe that it was not only the members of Congress who do not like the proposal to put up a Teachers Cooperative Bank. We are certain there were interest groups whose businesses are in lending who influenced the mindset of the lawmakers.
We also believe that there were, and still are, well-heeled officials of the Department that do not agree with Valdez’s proposal. They know that doing away with the existing lending firms offering loans to teachers would mean a big loss of extra income for them.
Believe us. We know of some people who were tasked to serve as link to some DepEd executives before the lending businesses got accreditation.
We really do not know if some of the present DepEd officials have the courage to bring the Teachers Cooperative Bank proposal back to life. But personally, it is one noble idea worth pursuing if the government is really sincere in its desire to deliver the teachers from the bondage of indebtedness to private lending institutions.