Cordillerans pool funds to help families of 14 SAF heroes
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Most of the Cordilleran police officers who died in the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP SAF) operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, were the breadwinners of their families.
Following the tradition of helping fellow Cordillerans, a group led by the Cordillera Administrative Region’s top real estate builder and church leaders from the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Evangelical churches have jumpstarted an initiative to help the bereaved families of the fallen cops.
On February 2, real estate businessman and lawyer Alexander Bangsoy, Fr Andres Cosalan who is Vicar of the Diocese of Baguio, Bishop Joel Padchao of the Episcopal Church, and Bishop Peter Mayyam of the Evangelical Churches in the region, opened a joint account to raise funds for the families of the 14 SAF troopers from CAR.
Bangsoy said that Facebook page "13 Cordilleran Heroes" has garnered 5,000 likes and over a thousand shares since it was created a week ago to generate awareness on, and encourage participation, in the campaign.
Bangsoy said that as of February 9, donations made to the account have reached P162,033.
As their show of support, Igorots based in countries like Australia, Armenia, and the United States, among others, have started remitting donations while pledges of support continue to arrive.
Bangsoy said they will continue to raise funds until March 2.
Other activities in the works to benefit the fallen cops' families include a Zumba party, a fun run, and concerts.
The 14 police officers were among the 392 elite cops who entered Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on January 25 to arrest two Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists – Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir known as "Marwan” and Abdulbasit Usman.
Of the 392, 44 were killed in the clash. (READ: The SAF 44: Our sons, our heroes)
Bangsoy said that initially, it was reported that only 13 Cordillerans died in the operation but it was later confirmed that Police Officer 2 Joel Dulnuan, whose address is in Nueva Vizcaya, traced his roots to Ifugao province.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said that the local government will give P20,000 in cash assistance to each of the 14 policemen.
The Benguet provincial government had also donated P10,000 to each family, while the La Trinidad municipal government had extended an undisclosed amount to the families of the Cordillera cops.
Aside from assistance – in cash and in kind – from the national government, the families will also get help from private foundations that have begun their own fund-raisers. – Rappler.com