MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday assured government assistance like scholarship grants for beneficiaries of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members killed during an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last week.
During Monday’s flag raising ceremony, DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro led the nationwide observance of 44 seconds of silence in front of DepEd Complex in Pasig City to honor the 44 slain SAF members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
On Monday afternoon, 44 students wearing black arm bands from Oranbo Elementary School, together with their teachers and guardians, lined up outside the main lobby of DepEd Complex with each student holding a small placard bearing the names of the 44 fallen SAF members and placed them in the grounds while the adults lighted 44 candles beside their names.
After lighting the candles, everybody fell silent for 44 seconds to give honor to the fallen SAF members and gave another second of silence for all other casualties of the clash in Maguindanao.
In a press conference after the ceremony, Luistro expressed the department’s sympathy to the bereaved families of the PNP-SAF members.
According to Luistro, he found out while attending the necrological services for the slain SAF members that most of those who died were graduates of public schools and breadwinners of their families.
With this, he said the DepEd and the other government agencies listed the names of the immediate families of the fallen SAF members for references in providing assistance like scholarship grants for their children and siblings.
“We have the responsibility to look after the widows and the orphaned of the fallen PNP-SAF members,” said Luistro.
During the occasion, Luistro also told the students and teachers that events like the Mamasapano clash is a pondering moment in understanding the shared responsibility of every citizen in the promotion of peace in the country.
Also present in the event were Education Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Senior Inspectors Jim Paler and Evelio Quimpo.