SHOESTRING  BUDGET  HAMPERING  PNP  LIFESTYLE  CHECK

MANILA,  October 20, 2004
(STAR)
By Christina Mendez - With a yearly budget of just P9 million and no telephone line or computer, the Philippine National Police’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) does not have enough means to conduct a lifestyle check on all 115,000 police nationwide.

Inspector General Alexis Canonizado said the IAS has been allocated a P22-million budget annually, but that the agency only gets P9 million from the Department of Budget and Management.

"We have to make do with... the meager budget we have," he said.

"How long can P1,000 budget for each provincial office go in terms of investigation? A regional police office has at least one lawyer at the least to handle many cases in their areas," Canonizado said.

He said the lifestyle check could take years, or up to the time that the police officers concerned have already retired from the service.

"The statements of assets and liabilities (SALs) to be examined will have to cover at least five consecutive years of every police officer," he said.

Canonizado said after they have examined the SALs, they can only make recommendations to the Office of the President on cases involving police generals.

"We will segregate those questionable and those not questionable (assets)... We can only recommend — especially on the generals who are appointees of the President — the necessary penalties," he said.

"We will give the recommendation through the PNP chief."

Canonizado said he has directed the PNP’s Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) under Chief Superintendent Nicolas Pasinos to submit the SALs of policemen for the past five years.

"The first step that we take is to require the DPRM to provide us with copies of the SAL of the police force... to start, first with the generals down," he said.

Canonizado said he has yet to finalize the rules and guidelines on who will examine the SALs of police officers who are subjected to a lifestyle check.

"I already tasked my officers here to prepare the rules and procedure that we will follow in the investigation," he said. "We have a uniformity of procedure in the probe."

PNP chief Director General Edgar Aglipay is the only police officer who had voluntarily submitted himself to a lifestyle check, he added.

Canonizado said the IAS has no auditors and accounts to review the SALs of policemen and discern any trace of irregularity in the document.

"As you know, the Internal Affairs Service is undermanned," he said.

"As a matter of fact, out of the 292 civilian personnel approved by the DBM, only 78 personnel were funded by the Department of Budget and Management."

The IAS will ask help from the PNP Intelligence Group in conducting lifestyle checks on policemen, he added.

Canonizado said the IAS function of investigating policemen is also being done by the Office of the PNP chief, regional directors, provincial police commanders, chiefs of other police units, people’s law enforcement boards, the National Police Commission, Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission, Congress and the Department of Justice.

"I have been telling them that we have to rationalize these kind of disciplinary machinery at the PNP," he said. "Nagkakagulo because of the overlap of investigation."

At times, the Office of the Ombudsman throws to the IAS the investigation of administrative complaints against police officers so it could focus on the criminal aspect of the case, Canonizado said.

Meanwhile, Canonizado said the IAS has started investigating police Deputy Director General Eduardo Matillano after he was caught using a P3-million Jaguar sports car seized from suspected drug lord Jackson Dy last year.

He has created a three-man team to speed up Matillano’s probe, he added.

Matillano turned over the Jaguar to police authorities after claiming that he took custody of the vehicle to prevent it from being "cannibalized" while impounded at PNP headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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