CAVITE, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, March 24, promised to create a “trust fund” for the children of policemen and women who are killed in the line of duty.
The proposed trust fund, to be created through legislation, would ensure that the children and spouses of slain police would get financial assistance even if their loved ones in the uniformed service – typically the breadwinner – die in the performance of their duties.
“I have so many things to tell you. Alam mo lahat ng (All of these), God forbid. I do not wish it upon anybody. Pero ‘yung mga anak ninyo (But your children), during my term and maybe thereafter, I’m looking for billions of pesos as a trust fund for your families,” Duterte said in the ad-libbed part of his speech before graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy “Masidlak” Class of 2017.
Duterte then told the incoming police, jail, and fire inspectors the possible inspiration for his plan – his experience as a hostage of the New People’s Army, whose members held him at gunpoint.
“I could feel the cold steel [on my temples]. The first thing that came to my mind was my child, who was still inside my wife’s womb, Sebastian,” said Duterte, referring to his youngest son with his ex-wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
“'Yung walang ginawa kung hindi rin maghanap ng babae (The one who now does nothing but look for women),” he quipped in describing Sebastian, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Turning serious once again, Duterte said he was okay with dying but worried about his children and family. “That is why I will assure you now, I’ll make you the guarantee that I will leave a legislation that will put in trust so many billions....Dahan-dahan lang (We’ll do it slowly),” he added.
Wives of slain cops, said Duterte, would also be assured of work in government – at the barangay nearest them – through the interior department.
“So ‘yung mga bata, the Presidential Staff takes care of the expenses sa education at ‘yung mga naiwan na asawa, nasa gobyerno (When it comes to the children, the Presidential Staff will take care of expenses for education. The government will take care of the widows),” he added.
Duterte had earlier spoken of police casualties in his popular but controversial war on drugs.
“More than just policemen and women, let us remember that those brave souls who were also family members who selflessly laid down their lives to see a better tomorrow for the present and future generation,” he said, reading from a prepared speech that was apparently “only” two pages long.
“We will not allow them to become mere statistics. We owe it to them, to ourselves, to our children to ensure that their sacrifice will not be in vain – that they died so [we may] have peace and order and stability for our country today,” the President added.
Duterte is known to have an affinity with policemen. During the 2016 campaign, Duterte promised a salary hike for cops.
“The government will ensure our policemen that their families will be taken care of. That is why we have increased the combat pay and incentives for our PNP uniformed personnel. I have also issued directives to provide assistance to the immediate families of your fallen comrades,” he added.
But the President has also been known to be tough on erring members of the police force, not hesitating to berate so-called scalawag cops. He had earlier ordered the PNP to stop all anti-illegal drugs operations, following allegations that anti-illegal drugs group police orchestrated the kidnap and murder of a South Korean businessman.
Duterte also ordered the dissolution of all PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) units.