MANILA The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday dismissed reports claiming that the troops wounded and killed during the more than five-month battle to recover Marawi City from the clutches of the Islamic State-influenced terrorists, were only given a measly PHP24.14 million out of the PHP274,964,222.02 raised in donations by private and concerned groups.
"The story failed to clarify the fact that the 'P251.718 million transferred by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to various implementing agencies' came from the said P274.96 million which were actually distributed to wounded Marines, Airmen, and Army Troopers through their respective branches of service and two other commands," military spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a statement forwarded to the Philippine News Agency.
This is in response to reports claiming that the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the AFP for the meager assistance it has given troops who were wounded in the during the battle in 2017.
This is because the "implementing agencies" referred to the COA report are the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army and Western Mindanao Command and AFP Health Services Command, he added.
The PHP23.14 million being claimed as the amount only given to troops killed and wounded in the five-month battle is only the funding allocated for AFP General Headquarters (GHQ) which it distributed to the affected soldiers.
"The amount of PHP23.14M is for the GHQ only to disburse, which it actually distributed to some 949 wounded soldiers in the amounts and number of recipients as reflected in the report," Arevalo said.
Also, the AFP spokesperson pointed out that the actual troops killed in the battle only amounted to 160 compared to COA's 287 while official wounded totaled to 1,865 in contrast to the agency's 1,979.
"The discrepancy is due to COA's inclusion of other casualties for the entire 2017 not only Marawi. As of end of 2018, however, the COA said the AFP only managed to assist the families of eight killed soldiers with a check amounting PHP 1 million for each family, while only 949 wounded soldiers received cash grants," he added.
The battle for Marawi City started on May 23, 2017 and concluded five months later with the death of the terrorist leaders which include Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers.
"The discrepancy is due to COA's inclusion of other casualties for the entire 2017�not only Marawi," he added.
Arevalo said COA claims of unequal distribution of benefits to the beneficiaries, which the agency cites to be due to the absence of clear directives governing the grant/payment of financial assistance to the victims of the Marawi siege, should be taken in the proper context.
"The AFP has existing policies governing the distribution of financial assistance to casualties before the Siege of Marawi. But the fund at issue is not an allocation to the AFP budget; it is from accumulated cash donations from benevolent individuals when the Marawi conflict broke out," he added.
The amounts received were on account of the wounds incurred, the length of stay in the hospital, and the amount available at the time, he added.
"The amount of donations started from zero and gradually accumulated. The recipients of (PHP)80,000 and (PHP)90,000 sustained the most serious injuries since they were confined longer in the hospital and at the time that donations have reached its peak," he added on response to COA report claiming that only PHP2,000 were given to 23 soldiers; PHP3,000 given to 139 soldiers, and while PHP90,000 and PHP80,000 were only given to two separate individuals. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency