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Term ‘blood money’ is misunderstood, misused

/ 12:01 AM March 19, 2015

This is in reaction to the news item, “SAF fallen’s widow: We don’t want blood money” (Inquirer.net, 3/8/15).

While we deeply condole with the wives, relatives and friends of the Fallen 44 of the Special Action Force (SAF), we cannot help but comment on the impression that the financial support and assistance, given or promised to the families they left behind, amount to “blood money.”

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Webster’s defines “blood money” as: (1) money paid to a hired killer; (2) money paid as compensation to the next of kin of a murdered person (in this case the payor is the person who killed the victim); and (3) money gotten ruthlessly at the expense of others’ lives or suffering.

The second definition is common in many Muslim and Arab countries. In some cases here in the Philippines, the relative/s of a murdered victim is/are paid a certain amount as part of the penalties imposed by the court or of an amicable settlement reached by the litigants.

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The Fallen 44 died heroically. This country will be grateful to them forever for the price they paid in the performance of their duty. They got their man, but one man’s death, no matter how notorious or wanted he is, cannot compensate for 44 lives lost.

The commandos chose a vocation the perils of which they were aware they would be facing every minute of their lives. Their death showed in vivid, gory detail the real face of those risks. They were brave and gallant. They are heroes.

That was a legitimate security operation. Soldiers and law enforcers get killed or wounded in the field when in pursuit of enemies. Some are waylaid in the process. Sadly, we hear this kind of news almost daily.

But why are the relatives of the Fallen 44 complaining? They know that the dead or wounded police officers were doing their jobs. They are getting the corresponding compensation provided by law.

The problem with the Mamasapano debacle was that a suspended police chief, for whatever reasons, was allowed to direct the operation, albeit unofficially; and people who should have been told about it were kept out of the loop, simply because of personal differences or professional jealousy.

President Aquino has been getting the blame for this tragedy, which is being used by his opponents and perennial critics to destabilize his government. Some sectors are calling for his resignation, even ouster.

The problem is many of them do not have a “clean bill of health.” Many of them are remnants of the corrupt Marcos and Arroyo regimes who have been negatively affected by the President’s anticorruption campaign. The stigma of corruption stick in their woolen habits and garments. And apparently they are using some of the widows as “cannon fodder” in order to achieve their goals.

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And the widows, even if they are getting more benefits than what are actually due them under law, nevertheless regard the benefits as “blood money.”

—RAMON MAYUGA, [email protected]

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TAGS: blood money, Mamasapano, SAF 44, Special Action Force
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