Senator wants probe over missing allowances of SAF troopers

admin   •   April 18, 2018   •   3546

SAF Troops

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee chairman Senator Panfilo Lacson wants an investigation on the unreleased P59.8 million subsistence allowance and hazard pay for Special Action Force (SAF) troopers of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The former chief of police said withholding of allowances may demoralize members of the PNP-SAF.

On Wednesday, April 18, Lacson filed Senate Resolution 712 urging a probe on the issue.

In his resolution, Lacson said, “We cannot allow, yet again, another injustice to be committed against our heroes in uniform who are in the forefront of our fight against the ills of terrorism and criminality, lest we risk demoralization within their ranks.” He insists “the need to probe into the said allegations.”

SAF troopers are entitled to a daily Additional Subsistence Allowance (ASA) of P30 a day or P900 a month. Lacson said that based on records, SAF troopers only received their allowance from January 2016 to July 2017.

He said some members of SAF had approached him regarding their concerns and handed him a copy of the complaint filed against SAF officials at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Former SAF head director Benjamin Lusad and SAF budget officer Senior Superintendent Andre Dizon are accused of plunder and malversation of public funds.

They admitted having the funds but claimed these were used for operational expenses, fellowship, and training. But Lacson said they did not present any proof of liquidation.

Yesterday, outgoing PNP Chief Police Director Ronald Dela Rosa confirmed that a portion of the “missing” money was already turned over by Lusad to the current SAF Chief Police Director General Noli Taliño.

“Una, nagbigay ng P10 million. Tapos, afterwards, nagdagdag ng P27 million so P37 million na iyong naibalik kay General Taliño para i-distribute doon sa mga tropa,” Dela Rosa confirmed.

(He initially gave P10 million. Afterwards, P27 million was added, so a total of P37 million has been returned to General Taliño for distribution to the troops.)

General Bato hopes the investigation will shed light as to why the money was not released. — Marje Navarro – Pelayo |UNTV News & Rescue

Vaccine deal with Pfizer still on — Lacson

Marje Pelayo   •   December 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed that the Philippines’ negotiation with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine is still ongoing.

Lacson cited the assurance from Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Romualdez that the new initiative between Pfizer and the Philippines will continue.

“Only pushed back to a later date of delivery possibly June next year because we did not act quick enough on the CDA (Confidential Disclosure Agreement). Other countries got ahead of us like Singapore,” Romualdez said.

Lacson pinned the delay on Health Secretary Francisco Duque III saying the Philippines would have secured the delivery of 10 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines as early as January next year had Duque acted on the documentary requirements needed for the deal such as the Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA).

The deal had been set between United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin as early as July this year.

Lacson said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had also assured Ambassador Romualdez and Sec. Locsin that money would be made available.

But Duque denied all allegations saying the process couldn’t just be done in haste.

“There is no such a thing that I did not act quick enough. The thing is, you go through a process. You cannot just be hurrying up things just like that. You have to be prudent and cautious especially because you are talking about a brand-new — a novel vaccine at that,” he said in a statement.

“Tuloy-tuloy lang kami sa  mga reviews nung mga conditionalities /provisions and I just wanted to make sure na hindi onerous or disadvantageous to government yung mga provisions,” Duque said adding that he had to refer the matter to the lawyers of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as well as the lawyers of the Executive Secretary.

He said it was then submitted to him on October 20 and he signed it.

“So there is no such a thing as somebody ‘dropping the ball’. It is really an ongoing negotiation,” the Health Secretary argued.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said that should the accusations against Duque be proven true, the health chief may face charges of gross inexcusable negligence which is a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Kung totoo ito na nagkulang ang DOH, gross and inexcusable negligence sa anti-graft law ang posibleng kaso,” Pangilinan concluded. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Health workers have until Dec. 11 to submit requirements for hazard pay – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Healthcare workers only have a few hours left before the deadline for the submission of the requirements for their hazard pay expires Friday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement, the DOH said it has set the deadline at 5 p.m., Friday, which is already an extension from its original deadline of December 9.

The department said the extension was prompted by recent reports on groups of healthcare workers in Metro Manila protesting on the limited number of days they were given to submit documentary requirements to claim the benefits.

“Acknowledging the limited number of working days left in the year to process the HCW benefits, parties have agreed to move the deadline to the end of the week,” the DOH said in a statement after a dialogue with representatives from hospital unions and the Hospital Industry Tripartite Council on December 9.

The DOH also urged hospitals and health facilities to be “more facilitative in the processing of these benefits” due to medical frontliners as it stressed the “invaluable contribution of our valiant health workers in the fight against COVID-19.”

“While hospitals and other health facilities may request additional requirements and impose deadlines with a view to expediting the release of active duty hazard pay or special risk allowance, these impositions should not unduly burden our healthcare workers,” the department said.

The DOH assured that it is committed to providing the compensation and benefits accorded to medical frontliners under Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Lacson urges gov’t to revisit use of PITC as procurement arm

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has called on the government to look into its practice of using the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) as a procurement arm.

Lacson said utilizing the PITC for procurement requirements of several national government agencies may have to be “revisited and stopped” to “save on unnecessary expenses amounting to billions of pesos in delays and commissions or service fees.”

The senator also questioned the PITC’s existence, saying that the agency may have “outlived its purpose.”

“Since the creation of the Government Procurement Service under the Department of Budget and Management, the PITC may have outlived its purpose,” Lacson said in a statement on Monday.

“Initially, it was only used to circumvent the procurement of medicines, especially for emergency needs. But later, it has expanded into the procurement of other items like rice,” he added.

Some senators earlier pointed that that the practice of using PITC to procure items only allowed departments to make it appear that their budgets had been obligated.

It was recently tapped to be the state’s procurement arm for COVID-19 vaccines tentatively pegged to amount to over P70 billion through loans.

Lacson said that it would be prudent that the government at least “take a long hard look” at the involvement of the PITC in the procurement of vaccines.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said he would push for a Senate inquiry into the books of the PITC after voicing out suspicion that billions of government funds were “parked” at the PITC.

He said government agencies usually use the services of PITC when they are supposed to purchase products, and “pass on the budget there so that they will say that these are already obligated when in fact they are just deposited.”

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