By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) vowed to leave no stones unturned in determining the individuals and parties involved in the almost P60 million Special Action Force (SAF) allowance anomaly.
DILG officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo Año in his first marching order to newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to get to the bottom of the anomalous mess.
Año asked Albayalde to cover all the base to identify all the culprits and to immediately file the appropriate charges against them at the soonest time possible.
The DILG chief asked Albayalde to prioritize the probe to find out how SAF officials were allegedly able to withhold and deprive SAF troopers of their daily subsistence allowance for several months since 2016.
“This should be his first priority and will serve as litmus test on how he will carry out the internal cleansing program within the police organization,” Año said.
Four former SAF officials are now the subject of a complaint before the Ombudsman over the alleged squandering of close to P60 million that were meant for the daily additional subsistence allowance of SAF troopers for two years.
Año said Albayalde, who had also been part of SAF before, knows firsthand the hardships of being part of the elite force of the PNP and should be able to act decisively on this issue.
“He (Albayalde) is a former SAF commando and official so he knows the struggles of SAF and how they look forward to receiving additional benefits from the PNP,” he noted.
According to Año, the PNP should conduct its own fact-finding investigation to ensure that the SAF allowance mess is an isolated case and to craft appropriate policies that will prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
“This should not happen again,” Año said.
Año also instructed Albayalde to ensure that SAF personnel will receive the allowances that are due them.
He asked the newly installed PNP chief to find a way on how the allowances will be given to the intended SAF beneficiaries.
Año also noted that Albayalde needs all the support and encouragement in leading the largest law enforcement agency in the country and that the DILG as its “parent department” will provide all the necessary assistance it can give.
The PNP is one of the attached agencies under the DILG together with the Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, National Police Commission, Local Government Academy, and the Philippine Public Safety College.
Earlier, Año welcomed the appointment of Albayalde saying that “he is the right man for the job” and banked on the latter’s success in handling the 20,000 police force under the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
He said the challenge of cleansing the police ranks and overcoming the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country will remain as the biggest challenge for the new PNP chief as he expressed confidence that Albayalde will deliver.