Former SAF chief accused of plunder

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — Retired and current Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officers have filed a complaint for plunder and grave misconduct against former SAF Chief Director Benjamin Lusad and three others for alleged failure to release around P59-million worth of allowances for SAF personnel.

Apart from Lusad, the complaint filed before the Ombudsman named Senior Supt. Andre Dizon, Senior Police Officer 2 Maila Bustamante and Senior Police Officer 1 Jack James Irica.

The complaint said Lusad and others failed to release the additional subsistence allowance of around 4,000 SAF troopers amounting to around P59 million.

The SAF personnel did not receive their P30/day subsistence allowance from February to December 2016 and from August to December 2017, it added.

Some of the complainants said they met with Lusad on two occasions, during which he allegedly confirmed receiving money meant for the subsistence allowance. They said Lusad apologized, telling them the funds were spent instead for operations, fellowship and training.

Lusad is currently the chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon.

PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald Dela Rosa said he received an explanation from Lusad about the issue.

"Galit. Kung totoo yan, galit ako. It doesn't mean naman talaga na kapag finile ang kaso e totoo na talaga lahat yan...Meron siyang explanation na itong perang ito nagamit sa pera sa pagpakain sa SAF sa Bilibid," said Dela Rosa.

[Translation: I'm angry. If that's true, I'm angry. It doesn't mean that when a case is filed, it's true...He has explained that the money was used to feed the SAF at Bilibid.]

Interior Department Officer-in-Charge, Undersecretary Eduardo Año and incoming PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said they would make sure SAF personnel will receive the subsistence allowance due them.

Año said: "Tayo, we fight corruption, whatever form. So I make sure na magiging maayos ang imbestigasyon na yan."

[Translation: We fight corruption, whatever form. So I will make sure that a thorough investigation is conducted]

Albayalde, meanwhile said, "Kung talagang may pagkakamali ang dating SAF commander, talagang wala tayong magagawa. Basically, yung additional subsistence allowance, yun lang kasi'ng incentive natin sa Special Action Force. Remember, ito yung elite force na kung saan-saan naa-assign. I think they deserve the best, this kind of support na manggagaling sa ating national headquarters."

[Translation: If the SAF commander is really at fault, then we can't do anything. Basically, the additional subsistence allowance, that is the only incentive we have for the Special Action Force. Remember, this is the elite force who are assigned everywhere. I think they deserve the best, and this kind of support coming from our National Headquarters.]

Police officials said they don't want to prejudge the case, and would rather wait for the outcome of proceedings.