The government’s recent disbursement of $3 million (US$370,000) to former Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) combatants for rehabilitation purposes had seemingly sparked new demands for similar remuneration.
More than 800 officers of the defunct Special Police Constable are demanding similar payment to be made to them.
Malaitan former officer Jonathan Mae, who served as a constable for six years, says paying ex-militants with the tag of rehabilitation programs is totally unfair to members of the former special police constables.
The former officer said their demand is based on the fact that the officers recruited under special police constables unit had risked their lives by working long strenuous odd hours on high profiled cases in the line of duty during the ethnic crisis.
“The government should prioritize us first. We have sacrificed our lives to help keep law and order during the ethnic tension,” he said.
“We are loyal officers who stopped the ex-militants from ruining the country into the state of chaos,” he added.
On these grounds, Mae claimed that they had a stronger case than the ex-militants.
“We are humbly appealing to the Government to understand our sacrifices and consider paying us too,” he said.
“We too were promised by the previous governments to be compensated for our sacrifices to ensure law and order prevails during that chaotic and scary period,”Mae said.
The former special police constable claimed they were promised to be paid right after more than 400 police officers who have manned the borderline with Bougainville during the height of the Bougainville and Papua New Guinea crisis were compensated but strangely enough this was not forthcoming.
“We are surprised that the ex-militants were paid and we are also aware that our friends, who are political affiliates,have benefited from the $3million,” he alleged.
Mae pointed out that more than 800 Special Police Constables were demobilized in 2003 under a UNDP funded project which is part of their effort to help Solomon Islands government to reinforce peace after the ethnic tension (1998-2000).
He said the demobilization project was designed to meet multiple objectives – security, fiscal savings, and development.
It also contributed to the restructuring of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and the economic and social recovery of the country.
Mae claimed each officer received a six-month safety net allowance to encourage them to return to their communities.
He said the project also provided counseling and training in running small businesses, as well as materials and modest grants to help the start-ups.
It is however, understood that the Special Police Constables constabulary unit recruitment began after the Townsville peace agreement.
The program was believed architecture by former Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kamekesa, whose request saw the arrival of RAMSI in the country to restore law and order and economic recovery.
Similar sentiment was also raised lately by public officers who claimed they have continued to provide skeleton services to the public under mandatory statutes from their respective Ministries during those dark hours of governance and demand the same justice be extended to them as well.
It is only fair and just that those officers who risked their lives manning the public offices National Provident Fund (NPF), Solomon Islands Colleague of High Education (SICHE), Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA), Solomon Islands Water Authority (SIWA), Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) during the height of the ethnic tension should also be compensated they urged.
“We must appreciate the work of those officers as they have sacrificed their lives to manage those offices during the chaotic era,” they claimed.
By TEDDY KAFO