The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) vehemently condemns the brutal killing of four police officers in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last Thursday by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), describing the incident as "an act that only cold-blooded monsters are capable of executing."
"They were playing God with the four cops in their mercy. We condemn such complete disregard for life. Grabe ang ginawa nila sa apat na pulis. We will not rest until these murderers and enemies of peace are captured," says Año who was with President Rodrigo Duterte when he visited the wake of the victims.
The slain cops, Cpl. Relebert Beronio, Pat. Raffy Callo, Pat. Roel Cabellon and Pat. Marquino de Leon, were intelligence personnel from the 704th Mobile Force Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas. They were conferred with the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kalasag medals during the President’s visit.
The DILG Secretary says that he ordered the PNP to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in scouring nearby provinces to capture the NPA members who were behind the heinous act.
“As a former uniformed officer, I am enraged at this latest atrocity of the NPA which is a huge affront to our uniform, our badge, and our dignity as men and women in uniform. We will make sure that justice will be served to the families of the victims,” he says.
According to PNP PRO 7 Director PBGen Debold Sinas, the four cops were "dragged, hogtied, buttstroked and ganged up by about 30-40 men with one officer's rib broken before they were shot kneeling down, resembling a summary execution, more than an ambush."
The victims were supposed to meet an informant who was believed to have set them up for with the NPA for an ambush. Año also says that the killing of the four police officers was a direct assault not just to the PNP but to the advocacy of the national government towards ending the decades-long communist insurgency in the country.
He points out, though, that the said incident will not deter nor dishearten the government to trek the path of peace, especially with the support it is receiving from President Duterte and the growing number of local government units (LGUs) who are joining the fight against insurgency by declaring NPA as persona non grata.
"Our rage brought about by this horrendous incident will fill us with greater resolve and passion to attain peace. We will continue dreaming and working to achieve lasting peace," he says.
Assistance for the bereaved
DILG Secretary Año also assures the bereaved family of the four police officers that the government recognizes the sacrifice their loved ones gave to the country.
According to him, the family members of the fallen cops will be beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Social Benefits Program (CSBP) for killed in action, wounded in action (KIA-WIA), and killed in police operations, wounded in police operations (KIPO-WIPO) of AFP and PNP personnel.
The CSBP covers four levels of assistance. A Special Finance Assistance (SFA) will be granted in two tranches to the beneficiaries of KIA/KIPO in the amount of PHP500,000; to WIA/WIPO with total permanent physical disability (TPPD) in the amount of PHP250,000; and to WIA/WIPO with major and minor injuries in the amount of PHP100,000.
There will also be generous Shelter Assistance to families of KIA/WIPO and WIA/WIPO with TPPD worth PHP450,000; Health Care Assistance through coverage of premiums from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) worth PHP2400 per year, and maintenance medicines provided by the Department of Health for qualified beneficiaries of KIA/KIPO personnel; and Educational Assistance in the provision of annual stipends for up to two (2) children or other beneficiaries of KIA/KIPO and WIA/WIPO with TPPD.
"No amount of money, assistance can compensate for their loss. Nawalan sila ng asawa, ama, kapatid na kailanman ay hindi na maibabalik pero umaasa kami na sa pamamagitan ng CSBP, kahit papaano ay makatutulong ang pamahalaan para makabangon silang muli," Año says.
CSBP is being administered by the DILG and the Department of National Defense (DND), in cooperation with the Office of the President (OP) and other supporting agencies.