A first after Mamasapano: CIDG probes SAF over allowances mess

MANILA, Philippines – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is probing the Special Action Force (SAF) over the latest controversy to hit the elite police unit. 

The CIDG was ordered to scrutinize the SAF over the allowances controversy which involves a former SAF chief and 3 cohorts being accused of pocketing millions' worth of allowances instead of releasing them to thousands of ground troopers. (CHEAT SHEET: The SAF allowances issue)

This is the CIDG's first time to investigate the SAF since its probe into the Mamasapano clash which left 44 elite cops dead.

It is also the latest addition to the investigations already being pursued by the Ombudsman and the Senate.

This was confirmed to Rappler by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, who called the probe a "management audit."

Albayalde on Thursday, May 24, said the probe was ordered by former PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa just before he retired in April.

What does it cover? According to Albayalde, the probe covers only the SAF's finances and won't extend to the records of the embattled SAF officials.

The findings of the investigation won't lead to the filing of charges by the PNP, however. Instead, the top cop said, the CIDG will keep whatever it finds in case the Office of the Ombudsman asks for materials.

"The Ombudsman covers administrative and criminal case. Ours is some sort of supporting case for the Ombudsman, just in case the Ombudsman asks us [for materials]," Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino during a phone interview with Rappler.

Why this is surprising: Albayalde previously said the PNP will leave all the fact-finding to the Ombudsman.

Dela Rosa, during his last week as PNP chief, mentioned that he ordered only the PNP's Directorate for Comptrollership – the PNP office in charge of the organization's finances – to look into the mess. 

It turns out that the CIDG agents have been sifting through the SAF's finances for almost two months.

According to Albayalde, the new issue should not shatter the morale of the PNP. He said the probe only proves that the police "holds no sacred cows." – 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.