President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III personally met with the kin of the soldiers killed in a claimed ISIS-planned ambush by the Abu Sayyaf, to extend his sympathies and ensure them of government assistance.
The President flew to the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) in Zamboanga City and had a closed-door meeting with the families. One of those present is Rosalinda Dominguez, aunt of Pfc. Doreen Aspurias.
“He said, ‘Sorry.’ He said he was here to say sorry and to give assistance,” said Dominguez.
Dominguez said that the president, as a response to their question as to why the reinforcements took too long to rescue the troops, explained to them that there was reinforcement during the operation, but that it came late due to ongoing gun battle.
Dominguez said that she felt the sincerity of the President and accepted his apology.
According to Peter Paul Galvez, spokesperson of the Department of National Defense, the President handed the families checks from the Armed Forces. The families are expected to receive all the benefits due them, including those coming from the Office of the President and the Philippine army.
Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said the families will each get P250,000 from the Office of the President, a remuneration of their base pay (roughly about P180,000), P50,000 from the MBAI (Mutual Benefit Association Inc.), P100,000 from the insurance and P80,000 as burial assistance from the Philippine army.
“A team from the Presidential Management staff is talking to the families, writing down their other concerns and needs,” said Barrientos.
The encounter with the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf on Saturday (April 9) in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan resulted to the death of 18 soldiers, and wounded 50 others. The 44th Infantry Battalion to which the soldiers were part of were sent to the area to track down the kidnappers holding 3 foreign nationals and threatening to behead them.
According to a report from Reuters, the Islamic State or ISIS claimed responsibility over the ambush in a statement.
Part of the statement from ISIS said: "With the grace of God we were able to detonate seven trucks carrying soldiers."
In July 2014, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf gave bayah (or pledged allegiance) to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Abu Sayyaf is known for extortion, kidnappings and bombings and has been in existence since 1991.