Ex-SAF chief sacked as Ombudsman probe pushes forward

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Police Director Benjamin Lusad, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) chief has been sacked from his current post at the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations – Southern Luzon.

This was announced by PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao on Tuesday, April 17 in a Camp Crame press briefing, explaining that Lusad was relieved as a corruption probe pushes through in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Former SAF budget and fiscal officer Senior Superintendent Andre Dizon, and Senior Police Officer 2  Maila Bustamante and Senior Police Officer 1 James Irica of the budget office were also relieved of their posts.

Lusad, along with other former SAF officials, was accused of plunder and malversation for allegedly holding allowances worth P59.8 million intended for troops on the ground. 

Why are allowances important? SAF troopers are supposed to receive P30 a day as additional subsistence and hazard pay, or P900 per month for each SAF trooper, cumulatively amounting to millions of pesos.

Lusad and the SAF budget officers are accused of receiving the funds for the allowances but failing to release them.

For troopers who can be assigned to stand guard in far-flung areas, the amount, though small, can buy their next meal.

Since Lusad took over in July 2016, troopers reportedly only received allowances from January to July 2017, forcing many to use their personal money.

More on Lusad: Before his appointment as SAF director, Lusad was never assigned to the elite SAF in the Philippine National Police.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa reportedly appointed Lusad as SAF director out of respect for an upperclassman. The story goes that Lusad used to save Dela Rosa when he committed mistakes back in the PMA. Such mistakes supposedly warranted corporal punishment by upperclassmen.

Lusad was assigned to his Southern Luzon post in January 2018. SAF veteran Director Noli Taliño took over as SAF director then. – Rappler.com

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.

image