Honasan: SAF allowance probe bares weakness – money for food delayed
The inquiry started by the Senate on Tuesday into the alleged illegal withholding of the allowances of Special Action Force (SAF) commandos exposed a weakness of the unit – money for food was delayed.
“The committee chairman and I are saddened that we are exposing our strengths and weaknesses to friends and foe – pagkain – nakakalungkot lang,” Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan told officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, which is chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, was probing the P60-million allegedly misused additional subsistence allowance (ASA) of SAF commandos.
For one of the complainants, Director Moro Virgilio Lazo, former SAF chief, the ASA – P 30 a day or P900 per month – goes a long way for members of the elite force.
“Troops who are deployed ‘overseas,’ or those deployed outside Metro Manila, cling on to their their ASA, calling it ’kabuhayan’ [livelihood],” Lazo said.
He added that the commandos would leave their automatic teller machine (ATM) cards with their families.
For Lacson, a former PNP chief, messing with the allowances of the commandos would mean mutiny.
“When the stomach protests, prepare for revolution,” Lacson said.
Honasan offered suggestions to speed up the release of the allowances.
He nudged the PNP leadership to consider paperless transactions and set up a mechanism for tracking those who would need to be given ASA.
Police officials involved in the mess blamed the delays in the release of allowance to tedious paperwork, which could take three to six months to complete.
And when the funds were finally released, the allowances did not go to an average of 4,000 commandos per month.
Lacson asked why it seemed that the allowances were deliberately withheld and were only released in lump sum in May 2018.
It was revealed that the undisbursed allowances were used to pay for the training, fellowships, and messing of SAF commandos assigned at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Lacson said he could not understand why the ASA was reallocated for the use of SAF men deployed at the NBP.
“You cannot touch the ASA for Tawi-Tawi boys to NBP boys,” he said. /atm
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