By JACOB POK
MORE than 80 ex-service- men and women protested outside the Attorney-General’s (AG) office on Wednesday, demanding an explanation for a 20-year delay in receiving their entitlements.
The former PNG Defence Force soldiers were frustrated when State lawyers failed to attend court proceedings on Wednesday to make submissions on the State’s position on the payments.
The hearing was adjourned to next month due to the absence of State lawyers.
Many of the ex-soldiers are grand parents who were retrenched in the 1980s.
They gathered outside the AG’s office and demanded an explanation why State lawyers failed to turn up for the court proceedings and also the status of the payments.
Police were called in to man the gates when tension rose.
Two spokesmen of the ex-service men were later called into the office to discuss with the AG on the issues.
Spokesman and principal plaintiff John Kupo said after the meeting the AG had assured that the State would provide their position on the status of the payment on Feb 10 (next Wednesday).
He told the ex-soldiers to be patient as all other differences between them and the AG’s office were resolved in the meeting.
“The only problem is that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) document issued by the court was not signed by the relevant authorities. That is the cause of the delay,” Mr Kupo said.
He therefore called on all the ex-service men and women nationwide to “remain calm and wait for the D-Day next Wednesday”.
An ex-service woman, who requested anonymity, said they had been struggling for their entitlements for more than 20 years and had faced a lot of problems over the years.
“Our children could not go to school and many resorted to other illegal activities as we don’t have money to pay for their school fees or even afford to look after them,” she said.
“More than 250 ex-soldiers have died waiting, leaving their widows to struggle on.
“The Government should at least consider our demand and fast track the payments to ease our burden and sorrows.
“Our demands are genuine and not false claims. It should be resolved first before any other claims can be considered,” she said.