Delayed SAF allowances diverted to Bilibid commandos

MANILA, Philippines – Part of the P59.8 million in allowances meant for Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in the provinces were not released because it was diverted to the elite unit's commandos who were assigned to the national penitentiary. 

This was revealed by former PNP officials on Tuesday, May 22, during the Senate probe into the allowances that had been delayed for two years. (CHEAT SHEET: The SAF allowances issue)

According to former PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, the PNP and the Department of Justice (DOJ) had an agreement that the latter would hand National Bilibid troopers – colloquially called inside SAF as "Bilibid boys" – P150 a day.

The amount was 5 times what SAF handed its personnel on missions usually in the provinces.

"During the first days of the deployment of SAF to BuCor (Bureau of Corrections), we were promised by DOJ to be given additional subsistence allowance for the SAF troops deployed in the Bilibid, but I don't know what happened later," Dela Rosa said.

Broken promise? Citing embattled former SAF chief Benjamin Lusad, Dela Rosa and former SAF chief Director Moro Lazo said the DOJ was not able to keep its promise, so SAF spent the troopers' unreleased allowances to the Bilibid boys.

This was confirmed to Rappler by Lusad's budget officer, Senior Superintendent Andre Dizon.

WHY REDIRECT FUNDS? Police Director Benjamin Lusad during the senate hearing on SAF funds on May 22, 2018. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

WHY REDIRECT FUNDS? Police Director Benjamin Lusad during the senate hearing on SAF funds on May 22, 2018.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Dizon refused to disclose how much of the allowances were diverted to SAF assigned to Bilibid.

To recall, veteran SAF officials accused former officers of keeping allowances worth P59.8 million. The accused have so far returned P37 million.

Dizon's camp couldn't produce documents on the reallocation of funds. As of posting, we have been trying to reach former DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

Where the problem lies: As pointed out by Senator Panfilo Lacson, what the Bilibid boys got were funds that "boys" from other places had been longing to receive.

"That point I cannot understand. [Allowances] for those assigned to Bilibid have not been released. Shouldn't the money used for this not come from [others' allowances]?" Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Before the accused SAF officials were able to explain themselves, the hearing was suspended for another time, as Lacson had another session to attend to.

Earlier in the hearing, the ex-SAF officials presented clashing claims  on who was responsible for the alleged mismanagement of funds. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.