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GSIS reaches out to SAF 44 widows

Date Posted: January 25, 2019

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) reached out to the widows of Special Action Force (SAF) 44 policemen by hiring them as personnel in GSIS Zamboanga operations.

“In 2018, the GSIS branch office in Zamboanga was in need of additional people after a considerable number of its personnel retired and requested transfer to other branches. Heeding President Duterte’s appeal to give priority to qualified SAF 44 widows in government employment, we hired the four SAF 44 widows in December 2018 as personnel after their applications were evaluated and they were found qualified for the job under standard operating procedures, ” GSIS Chairman Rolando Ledesma Macasaet said.

According to the widows, they applied for work in GSIS because they had to look for additional source of income to sustain their family’s needs and at the same time, find a way to heal after they lost their husbands in a bloody encounter with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on January 25, 2015.

One of the widows, Lhea Tabdi, widow of Senior Police Senior Inspector, Gednat Tabdi, was a a former health worker in the City Health Office of Lamitan City who had to resign after the tragedy to take care of her three-year old son. “Happy ako. Alam ko ito rin ang gusto ng asawa ko, na ipagpatuloy ko ang buhay ko. Kapag sa bahay lang ako, ang daming iniisip,” said Tabdi on her decision to work again. These days, she finds fulfilment attending to the transacting clients of GSIS Zamboanga.

The other widows hired by GSIS are Emeliza Danao, wife of Police Officer 2 Walner F. Danao; Margaret Manuel, common law wife of Police Officer 2 Joel B. Dulnuan; and Adelisa Bedua, wife of Police Officer 2 Glenn B. Bedua.

Bedua cried as she exclaimed how grateful she is for the opportunity. “Natanggal ang pag-aalala ko sa gastusin. Malaking tulong … Marami akong nakikilala dito. Stressful kapag nasa bahay lang ako,” explains the widow who is now assigned at the branch offices’s Loans and eServices Unit. Being conversant in Tausug, she functions as an interpreter between GSIS staff and applicants from Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

Over a month into the job, Manuel says she is now comfortable working at the branch office’s Special Business Unit and “mabait sila” of the people that she has worked with. She provides assistance in encoding various contracts.

“Masaya ako sa ginagawa ko,” Danao says of her assignment at the GSIS Billing and Collection Unit.

Chairman Rolly Ledesma Macasaet, a true Zamboangueño from the large Ledesma clan, recalled that GSIS paid the Employee Compensation (EC) funeral benefits of SAF 44 policemen and released the initial pension benefits of their survivors barely a month after the tragedy struck. The surviving spouses and dependents of qualified SAF 44 policemen have since been receiving EC pension administered by the GSIS.

GSIS is the first agency under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to provide this kind of assistance to SAF 44 families.