PNP ‘Ghost Pensioners’

MANILA, Philippines --- The Philippine National Police (PNP) is improving its system of pension payments to protect it from "ghost" pensioners.

Senior Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said the move to improve the payments system came after they received reports that the government is losing millions of pesos every year to syndicates behind the ghost pensioners.

As part of the security measures, the police organization is pushing for its 51,000 pensioners to receive their funds through automated teller machines (ATMs).

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the syndicates have siphoned at least P250 million in pension funds.

"We have already identified the problems and efforts are under way to improve the security," said Cerbo.

One such improvement is releasing the pensions through the ATM. Cerbo noted that only 2,000 out of the 51,149 PNP pensioners have been issued ATM cards.

Earlier, the DBM itself strongly recommended the ATM payment of pension after finding out that some syndicates managed to subvert the PNP pension system.

Cerbo confirmed the DBM report and said they have arrested members of the syndicates in the past month.

The syndicates recruit women who pose as widows of policemen seeking benefit claims. The fake widows submit documents to the Police Retirement Benefit Administration Service (PRBAS), and PRBAS employees who are in on the scam legitimize the claims.

Aside from purging the list of personnel, Cerbo said the PRBAS leadership has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Landbank of the Philippines for an improved and systematic system of releasing pension.

It is in this new system that the use of ATM will be introduced.

Cerbo said the PNP signed a separate MOA with the National Statistics Office (NSO) for the constant updating of the data on all members of the PNP, including their marital status.

"The agreement calls for immediate transfer of data to the PNP relatives to the changes that were established by the police pensioners. This means that we will no longer be reliant on the documents that would be submitted by the claimants," said Cerbo.

The agreement with NSO was signed last March, and that with the Landbank in April.