It’s an award that – in the words of the national police chief himself – befits the sacrifice made by 44 elite police commandos during a botched operation against a wanted terrorist in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
But when the National Police Commission (Napolcom), under a new administration, recommended the conferment of the Medal of Valor to 42 of the 44 Special Action Force troopers, it caused a slight uproar among certain sectors and individuals, including the Secretary of Defense himself.
The promise to confer the award — the highest a policeman can receive — was among the key promises made by President Rodrigo Duterte when he met with the families of the SAF 44 during the second anniversary of the botched operation.
Two of the 44 – one each from the 84th and 55th Special Action Companies – had been given the award under the previous administation.
Around a year after, the Napolcom decided the rest of the 42 deserved the Medal of Valor as well. (READ: Duterte approves awarding of Medal of Valor to remaining SAF troopers)
Responding to media inquiries on Wednesday, February 15, national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos insisted the cops would not be getting the Medal of Valor but the Medalya ng Kagitingan.
“Medal of Valor” is the English translation of the “Medalya ng Kagitingan” and is the term used in documents from the Napolcom and the Office of the President in recommending and approving the award.
Different bodies are responsible for determining if a cop or soldier deserves to be given the esteemed award. For the military, it’s a board composed of military officials.
For the Philippine National Police (PNP), there’s the Special Promotions and Awards Deliberation Board. The Napolcom recommends the award and it is then determined by the board.
“Parang ang nangyayari ay equivalent ito, we give out PNP Medalya ng Kagitingan. Pag sinabi mo na Medal of Valor iba naman yung nag-review on the part of the armed forces, it is the DND. Let’s use it as Medalya ng Kagitingan,” said Carlos in a news briefing.
The privileges, said Carlos, are different for police and military. For police, awardees or their families get P20,000 on top of existing pensions.
Awardees from the military are set to receive an increase to P75,000, however, pending formal approval from the president.
According to Napolcom vice chairman Rogelio Casurao, cops will also be entitled to the planned increase of benefits for Medal of Valor awardees.
“We hope to provide you the appreciation of the committee or the board that reviewed and made the recommendation to our commander in chief and president,” said Carlos, referring to the Napolcom recommendation.
In the name of public interest, disclosing how the Napolcom determined why the 42 was worthy of the award would be a good move.
But so would explaining that the “PNP Medal of Valor” and “PNP Medalya ng Kagitingan” are one and the same. – Rappler.com