MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson is seeking an investigation into the withheld allowances of Special Action Force (SAF) troopers amounting to P59.8 million.
Lacson, chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, filed Senate Resolution 712 on Wednesday, April 18, urging his panel to probe the issue.
The former Philippine National Police chief said withholding allowances demoralizes SAF troopers, the front liners in the fight against crime and terrorism.
“We cannot allow, yet again, another injustice to be committed against our heroes in uniform who are in the forefront of our fight against the ills of terrorism and criminality, lest we risk demoralization within their ranks. Thus the need to probe into the said allegations,” Lacson said in his resolution.
He added that if indeed true, the withholding of allowances “constitutes a criminal or unlawful act,” which goes against President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy to increase the pay of uniformed personnel.
SAF troopers are entitled to a daily Additional Subsistence Allowance (ASA) of P30 a day or roughly P900 a month and allocations for EOD Hazardous Pay.
Records, however, showed that some 4,000 SAF troopers only got their share for January 2016 and from January to July 2017, even if the unit’s finance department officially received the funds.
Lacson said SAF troopers had approached him to air their grievances, furnishing him a copy of the complaint against SAF officials filed before the Ombudsman.
Former SAF head director Benjamin Lusad, SAF budget officer Senior Superintendent Andre 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.
Lusad and Dizon admitted that they got the funds but instead used them for operational expenses, fellowship, and training, but Lacsosn said they have not presented proof of liquidation.
Lusad was sacked from his current post at the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations – Southern Luzon, according to the PNP.