BAGUIO CITY — Outgoing Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa allayed fears of a cover-up on the plunder case involving the head of the Special Action Force (SAF) and dismissed insinuations that he would repay the officer for acting as his “savior” when he was a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
“When it comes to corruption, there is no such thing as a savior. You save yourself…There will be no cover-up even if I know Gen. Lusad as a very fine officer [with]whom I had shared many experiences back in the Academy days. There is no such thing as family, siblings, or company mate when it comes to corruption,” de la Rosa told reporters here in Filipino when asked for his comment on the P58.849 million plunder charge against SAF Director Benjamin Lusad.
De la Rosa said Lusad was a “respected member” of PMA Class ’85 who acted as his “savior” back when he was still a cadet in the Academy.
De la Rosa, however, said that Lusad, whom he saw as an “excellent, snappy, and industrious” officer, must face the corruption allegations without any help from him.
Currently, Lusad serves as the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Southern Luzon.
De la Rosa said that had he known that Lusad was accused of corruption, “I would not appoint him as an officer.”
Twelve members of the SAF filed the plunder charges against Lusad before the Office of the Ombudsman on April 12 over the unreleased Daily Additional Subsistence Allowance (ASA) for 2016 and 2017.
They said Lusad failed to give their daily ASA from July 2016 to January 2018 and were only given their ASA for January 2016 and from January to July 2017.
SAF members are each entitled to have an additional daily subsistence allowance of P30 per day or P900 a month in consideration of the risks they take in their operations.
The complainants also disclosed that they met Lusad, former PNP-SAF budget and fiscal officer Andre Dizon last March 27 and April 26 to talk about the issue.
They claimed that Lusad only apologized to them on both occasions and said that the funds were used for “operational expenses, fellowships and trainings”.
Dizon, Senior Police Officer 2 Maila Bustamante, and Senior Police Officer 1 Jack James Irica were also named as Lusad’s co-accused in the complaint.
De la Rosa said that Lusad had talked to him last week about the allegations but did not find his explanation satisfactory and therefore “should face the charges.”
Quoting Lusad, de la Rosa said that the SAF director became “lenient” with the budget and fiscal officer but did not elaborate.
A parallel investigation on the case has yet to start, according to de la Rosa. He also said that he would leave the case to his successor Oscar Albayalde.
“I will give this to him because it is his time. [I recommend to] get to the bottom of it. The Ombudsman is already investigating it but still, there is a need for an internal probe,” he said.
Albayalde will assume his new position as PNP chief on Thursday, April 19.