GMA TURNS OVER P1-M TO WIDOW OF RETIRED COLONEL WHO KILLED BANDIT
Malacanang, June 7, 2001 - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today turned over a P1 million check to the widow of retired Lt. Col. Fernando Bajet in line with her commitment to give rewards to individuals who can help the government track down Abu Sayaff bandits.
Bajet was killed Saturday during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf bandits who were holed up at the Jose Torres Memorial Hospital in Lamitan, Basilan. During the firefight, an Abu Sayyaf member, Yusop Jalal, was killed by Bajet.
Bajetís widow, Edna, who came with her children to Malacanang, met with President Macapagal-Arroyo this morning.
"Maraming salamat sa ngalan ng buong bansa (On behalf of the whole nation, thank you)," the President told Mrs. Bajet in turning over the reward.
In his regular press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, AFP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said that since Yusop was not in the Abu Sayyaf Order of Battle, Bajetís widow was entitled received P1 million in reward money.
Had Yusop been in the Sayyaf Order of Battle, the widow could have received P5 million under the reward system ordered by the President with a total purse of P100 million, Adan said.
During the simple turnover ceremonies in the Palace, Mrs. Bajet was accompanied by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Diomedio Villanueva, Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, and Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In her brief remarks, the President again conveyed the Filipino peopleís gratitude to the soldiers and policemen fighting the Abu Sayaff in Basilan and other areas of Mindanao, some of whom, she said, like Bajet, have lost their lives.
According to Secretary Soliman, Bajet, a native of Lamitan, won as town councilor in the May 14 elections.
Bajet lives within the vicinity of the St. Peterís Cathedral and the Jose Torres Memorial Hospital which were taken over by the Abu Sayyaf bandits, resulting in a fierce gun battle with government troops.
Bajet also used to be a member of the staff of General Villanueva and General delos Santos and was assigned to the Zamboanga peninsula, fighting Muslim rebels when he was still in active duty.
The President was informed that Bajet, 55 years old, would be buried on Monday in Lamitan.
In a related development, Secretary Soliman said that upon instructions of the President, the DSWD has been handing out cash assistance to the civilian victims in the Lamitan firefight, P10,000 for those killed and P5,000 for those injured.
Soliman and Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit visited Lamitan Wednesday to personally supervise the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the town and other areas in the province affected by the recent fighting.
Damage to the St. Peterís Cathedral and the hospital has been placed at P6.5 million, Soliman said.
The government, through the Philippine Navy Engineering Brigade, has started the reconstruction of the church and hospital, as well as some private houses damaged by the Abu Sayyaf when they retreated from the scene.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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