ANUMBER of policemen who were part of the security contingent during the five-day state and pastoral visit of Pope Francis are up in arms against their superiors whom they accused of pocketing part of their allowance.
One of the police officers interviewed by The Manila Times on Tuesday claimed that prior to the arrival of the Pope, they were promised P2,400 as their allowance that will cover the January 15 to 19 visit.
The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the day, Thursday, January 15, the pontiff arrived in the country, they were given P200 and on Saturday, January 17, P500.
When the Pope left on Monday, January 19, the policemen said they were expecting the balance of P1,700 to be given to them.
“Nagulat kami dahil yung P700 daw na ibinigay sa amin eh yun na daw yun. Paanong nangyari yun eh ang ipinangako sa amin ay P2,400 [We were shocked when we were told that the P700 they gave us was it. How can that be when we were promised P2,400]?” said the police officer assigned to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG).
Another police officer said this prompted them to ask their colleagues in other PNP units who told them that they had received the promised P2, 400 allowance.
The 600 policemen from PSPG under Chief Supt. Manuel Felix who were deployed in Metro Manila formed part of the 25,000 PNP personnel who provided operational support to the Presidential Security Group, which provided close-in security to the Pope and his entourage.
“Nagtanong din kami sa ibang kasamahan namin dito sa Crame, sa Highway Patrol Group, sinabi sa amin na P2,400 din ang nakuha nila. Sa Engineering Service may mga na-deploy din na P2,400 din ang nakuha nila [We also asked our other colleagues in Crame, in the Highway Patrol Group, they told us that they got P2,400. The same with Engineering Service],” still another police officer said n a separate interview.
Crame is Camp Crame, the PNP’s main headquarters located in Quezon City.
The Manila Times tried to contact Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina to get his reaction but he did not reply to text messages.
Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor responded to the messages, saying he was busy, and told this reporter to just text his questions to him. When texted, Mayor did not reply, however.
The police officers noted that while Pope Francis talked about rejecting corruption, here are some PNP officers apparently taking advantage of the budget intended for “foot soldiers.”
“Sobrang kakapalan naman kung ibinulsa nila yung allowance na para sa amin. Kami yung nagpakahirap para siguruhin ang kaligtasan ng Santo Papa, tapos bubukulan pa kami. Sobrang katakawan naman yan. Hindi ba sila tinablan sa sinabi ng Santo Papa laban sa corruption [They must be too thick-skinned if they did pocket the allowance due us. We worked hard to ensure the Pope’s safety, only for some of our superiors to pull a fast one on us. That was too greedy of them. Did they not take to heart the Pope admonishing us to fight corruption]?” the police officer first interviewed by The Manila Times said.
The officer was referring to the Pope’s message during his meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacanang on January 16 in which he enjoined Filipinos to turn away from the evils of corruption.
“I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption, which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community,” Francis said.
Besides the P2,400 allowance, some members of the PSPG complained that their superior officer has been requiring them to pay P1,000 for the issuance of Letter Order (formerly known as Mission Order), which they said should be issued free of charge.
“Saan ka naman nakakita na bibigyan ka ng mission tapos yung LO [Letter Order] babayaran mo pa [Where would you see being given a mission and then be made to buy a Letter Order]?” a PSPG member asked.
The PSPG is mandated by law to provide security to government officials, foreign dignitaries, private individuals and key government installations.