Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson is pushing a Senate investigation into a P59.8-million mess involving the withholding of daily subsistence allowance and explosive ordnance disposal hazardous pay for the Philippine National Police’s elite Special Action Force.
Lacson said the withholding of such allowances, if true, threatens to demoralize members of the SAF, who are the frontliners in fighting terrorism and criminality.
“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,” he said in Senate Resolution 712.
He cited the need to revisit existing laws and their implementation, to make sure police officers receive the benefits due them and to punish the erring parties concerned.
Lacson’s Senate resolution directs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged illegal withholding of the release of the allowances.
It seeks to propose remedial legislation “to correct the same and put a stop to this unlawful practice to the prejudice of the intended beneficiaries.”
Lacson, who headed the PNP from 1999 to 2001, said the unlawful withholding of these funds, if true, “constitutes a criminal or unlawful act and runs counter to the evident policy of the President to increase the pay of our military and uniformed personnel in order to repay them for their sacrifices.”
To strengthen the SAF, some 4,000 members who engage in life-threatening police operations are entitled to a daily additional subsistence allowance (ASA) of P30 a day (P900 a month), and allocations for EOD Hazardous Pay. This is usually given by the unit’s finance sergeant every quarter.
Yet, Lacson cited records showing the 4,000 SAF members only got their share of ASA for January 2016 and January to July 2017.
Lacson added members of the SAF had approached him to air their grievances on the matter, furnishing his office a copy of their complaint affidavit and annexes filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.
When confronted with the issue of the non-release of ASA, then SAF head Director Benjamin Lusad and SAF budget officer Senior Superintendent Andre Dizon admitted they got the unreleased ASA and admitted using the amounts for operational expenses, fellowship and training – but without showing proof of the liquidation.