MANILA Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday urged the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately resolve the alleged PHP59.8 million unreleased additional subsistence allowances for Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, even as he expressed his support for calls for a Senate probe into the controversy.
"We call for the immediate resolution of such withheld allowances and we urge the PNP leadership to not let this disservice to our troops happen again," Angara said in a statement.
The controversy came into light when a plunder and malversation case was filed by current and former SAF officials against former SAF commander Benjamin Lusad, SAF budget officer Senior Supt. Andre Dizon, and Maila Bustamante and James Irica of the SAF finance office before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Based on the complaint, the respondents reportedly failed to give the PHP30/day or roughly PHP900/month additional subsistence allowance of the SAF commandos for more than two years despite receiving the funds from the Department of Budget and Management.
The allegations prompted Senator Panfilo Lacson to file on Tuesday Senate Resolution 712 to make sure police officers receive the benefits due them and to punish the erring parties concerned.
Lacson, who headed the PNP from 1999 to 2001, said the unlawful withholding of these funds, if proven true, constitutes a criminal or unlawful act and runs counter to the evident policy of President Rodrigo Duterte to increase the pay of military and uniformed personnel in order to repay them for their sacrifices.
The resolution also proposes for remedial legislation "to correct the same and put a stop to this unlawful practice to the prejudice of the intended beneficiaries."
Angara is also renewing his call for passage of his proposed bill that seeks to provide bigger allowances and benefits to both uniformed and non-uniformed PNP personnel.
He said that if enacted into law, Senate Bill No. 138 or the Magna Carta for the PNP would ensure that PNP personnel would be provided with cost of living allowance, clothing allowance, quarters allowance, and subsistence allowance, as well as longevity pay, reasonable leaves, and retirement programs.
PNP personnel who accept assignments in remote areas or isolated situations, and are exposed to hardship and combat situation or other hazards unusual to peacekeeping, crime prevention and investigation activities, will be compensated with a remote assignment allowance and special hardship allowance, similar to the combat pay of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The bill also seeks to establish a holistic PNP development program that includes a merit promotion system, performance evaluation, in-service training, moral recovery program, physical and mental fitness programs, and other programs that would sustain the professionalization of the PNP.
"This Magna Carta seeks to put dignity into the country's premiere police force. The government should provide support to foster a highly efficient and competent PNP. It's the least we can do as they put their lives at stake in their commitment to preserve peace and order and protect the lives of Filipino people," Angara said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency