By Chito Chavez
A group of police retirees complained that the automatic loan deductions on their monthly pensions had put them into deep financial distress, given the high-interest rates and prolonged terms of loan payment.
In a meeting with newsmen in Quezon City, the retirees appealed to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to order the PNP Finance Service to stop the automatic loan deductions on their monthly pensions.
Members of the group, who requested not to be identified, said the PNP’s system for automatic deductions has gone on “for too long,” putting them on the brink of bankruptcy.
The retirees pointed out that the automatic deductions from their monthly pensions are being affected by the PNP through its Automatic Pension Deduction Scheme and are made in favor of PNP-accredited Multi-Purpose Cooperatives (MPCs) and Savings and Loans Associations (SLAs).
The retirees claimed that such practice of automatically deducting from pension proceeds to collect payment for pension loans had been declared by the Department of Justice as illegal.
In June 2017, the Department of Justice released an opinion stating that the governing charter of SLAs, Republic Act 8367, does not authorize the PNP to deduct from retiree pensions.
“We earnestly pray that PNP Director Oscar Albayalde will safeguard the welfare of PNP retirees by ordering the PNP to immediately stop the practice of causing automatic deductions from our monthly pensions for the purpose of collecting pension loan payments on behalf of certain privately-owned lending entities,” they added.
The retirees said the PNP has become a publicly-funded collection agency for private companies.
In response to complaints filed by 74 active policemen, former PNP Chief Ronald (Bato) dela Rosa had ordered the immediate termination of automatic deductions on them in order to avoid any suspicion of impropriety or illegality on the part of the PNP.
“When former PNP Chief dela Rosa assailed the automatic deduction from pensions, we hoped that the PNP would carry out his order to protect retirees who have fallen victim to automatic deductions,” said a PNP retiree.
“Despite his order, however, the deductions are still continuing to this day,” the retiree complained.
Chief Supt. Lyndon Cubos, chief of the PNP Finance Service, said his office cannot just stop the automatic loan deduction system since it favors the bigger majority of retirees who have existing loans.
“As far as we are concerned we are doing them service, and it will defeat the purpose of serving our retirees once we stop this. Majority of our retirees appreciate the system since they will not be inconvenienced in making the monthly payment,” Cubos said.
“The PNP is not earning a single centavo from this. It will be a big decrease to our workload if we stop the automatic loan deduction scheme but we really want to help our retirees by making it easier for them to pay their monthly dues,” he added.
He said these retirees are at the advantage when they secure loans from PNP-accredited SLAs due to the lesser monthly interest rates compared to non-accredited SLAs.
Reports said that six of the nine MPCs catering to PNP active service personnel and retirees are being investigated by the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership and the PNP Finance Service.
Many other PNP retirees have complained against certain SLAs for the misuse of automatic deduction. The PNP has been urged to look into these complaints against SLAs as well.