Former Ombudsman John Smith Pitabelama urges the government to pay the claims of 437 former and serving officers who previously served at the Solomon-PNG border during the Bougainville crisis.
Mr Pitabelama, who was also a former Police commander who served at the border, claimed the government would put the upcoming national elections at risk if it failed to meet the demands.
“Government’s failure to address the claims would put national security at stake because police officers concerned plan to subvert the election process,” he said.
“I see no reason why the government should prolong the issue, because it was a long time claim and government had already budgeted for, but the funds were not released,” Mr Pitabelama claimed.
He called on the Caretaker Prime Minister to seriously look into possible options and at least meet half of the claims.
“Because as far as I know, these officers meet this week and discuss how they could approach the Caretaker government if there is no positive response,” he said.
Mr Pitabelama said this issue has been raised in Parliament and the national government is committed to pay the outstanding claims.
Caretaker Minister for Police and National Security and Correctional Service (MPNSCS) Chris Laore told Parliament the outstanding claim stands at $100,000 per person, which amounts to $43.7 million.
“This is a substantial amount of claim and requires proper assessment and quantification.
“At the direction of Cabinet, my ministry has submitted the claim to the Police and Prison Service Commission to assist it properly,” Mr Laore said then.
He explained in 2007 at a Cabinet conclusion, an amount of $3,584,000 was approved and paid to officers as good will payment.
However, based on the Cabinet conclusion that time, Police officers believed that is still a requirement for the ministry together with the Commissioner of Police to recommend and appropriate award for officers that served at the border between 1989 and 2000.
“Over the last 12 months, my ministry has been working with the RSIPF and the officers concerned and two reports have been submitted to my ministry.
“From these two reports, a Cabinet paper was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
“These reports provided the actual list of officers authorized by the Commissioner of Police to be engaged in the border operation from 1989 -2000.”
By ELLIOT DAWEA