Ex-SAF chief's budget officer returns P37 million to PNP

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senior Superintendent Andre Dizon, budget officer of embattled former police Special Action Force (SAF) chief Director Benjamin Lusad, has returned P37 million to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

This was announced by outgoing police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa during his retirement testimonial dinner Tuesday, April 17, in Camp Crame.

"Una, nagbigay ng P10 million, tapos afterwards, nagdagdag ng P27 [million], so naging P37 million na ang binalik," Dela Rosa told reporters in an ambush interview. (First, they gave P10 million, then afterwards, they added P27 [million], so it adds up to P37 million.)

Lusad, Dizon, and police sergeants Maila Salazar Bustamante and James Rodrigo Irica from the SAF’s finance office, are accused of committing plunder and malversation of public funds in receiving but failing to distribute over P59.8 million in funds meant for the allowances of SAF troops and allocations for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hazardous Pay.

They apparently failed to release the allowances from July 2016 up to when they were reassigned to another PNP group in January 2018.

Reached for clarification, incumbent SAF chief Director Noli Taliño confirmed that the P37 million was given to the PNP in two batches by Dizon:

Taliño said he does not know whether the money was given in cash, why the money was given back, or whether there will be other deposits to be made. In parrying questions from reporters, Taliño said the money was coursed through the current SAF budget officer.

One thing is clear: the PNP presumes that the return was made in relation to the multimillion-peso case brought to the Ombudsman, and Lusad and his cohorts remain relieved until someone is made accountable. – 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.