By Hannah Torregoza
Amid the controversy hounding the Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF), Senator Juan Edgardo (Sonny) Angara on Wednesday pushed for the passage of the measure that seeks to strengthen the rights and raise the benefits of police personnel.
Angara made the call in light of allegations that P60-million worth of daily subsistence allowance and explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) hazardous pay for the SAF members were supposedly withheld.
“Kakarampot na nga lamang na allowance, nagawa pang ipagdamot sa ating mga magigiting na SAF troopers, (it’s a scanty allowance, and yet they failed to share it to our courageous SAT troopers? ” Angara pointed out.
“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,” said Angara, who echoed the call for a Senate probe into the issue.
The issue stemmed from the complaint filed by active and retired SAF officials who earlier filed a plunder case against former SAF commander Director Benjamin Lusad, SAF budget officer Senior Supt. Andre Dizon and Maila Bustamante and James Irica of the SAF Finance office.
Based on the complaint, the respondents reportedly failed to give the P30/day or roughly P900/month additional subsistence allowance of the SAF commandos for more than two years despite receiving the fund from the PNP leadership.
Angara has been pushing for the passage of Senate Bill No. 138 or the Magna Carta for the PNP that aims to provide bigger allowances and benefits to both uniformed and non-uniformed PNP personnel.
The Magna Carta ensures 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.
But the bill is still pending second reading. It has been referred to the Senate committees on finance and public order and dangerous drugs.
“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.
Under the bill, Angara said any PNP personnel who accepts assignments in remote areas or isolated situations, and is exposed to hardship and combat situation or other hazard unusual to peacekeeping, crime prevention and investigation activities, will be compensated with a remote assignment allowance and special hardship allowance, similar to combat pay of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Likewise, the bill seeks to establish a holistic PNP development program that includes merit promotion system, performance evaluation, in-service training, moral recovery program, physical and mental fitness programs, and other programs aimed at sustaining the professionalization of the institution.