February 2, 2011
In light of the House hearing yesterday on the plea bargain deal between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino of Kabataan Party-list today hit the military anew by exposing another possible evidence for corruption based on a 2010 Commission on Audit (COA) report.
Palatino cited the following cases from the COA findings in its 2010 Department of National Defense (DND) budget notes, to wit:
P1.84 billion fund for the 14 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization projects was suspended due to the realignment of the funds not intended for its original purpose. The AFP is also facing possible legal suits from contractors [2008 Annual Audit Report].
P45.89 million reimbursements from the United States (US) Balikatan Excercises were not deposited to the Bureau of the Treasury despite COA’s recommendation to do so [2008 ARR].
P174.48 million intended for the Advances to Officers and Employees, 99% of which was extended to another office (AFP-General Headquarters), remains unliquidated as of December 31, 2008. The COA reports says that, under existing regulations, a cash advance must be accounted for immediately after the purpose for which it has been given was completed [2008 ARR].
Philippine Air Force (PAF). P186.6 million and P69 million of undelivered items procured through the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC) and DBM Procurement Service (DBM-PS), respectively [2009 ARR].
Philippine Navy (PN). 177.5 million and 41.2 million of undelivered items procured through PITC and DBM-PS, respectively [2009 ARR].
P142.5 million fund for eight (8) special housing projects, from the AFP Modernization Fund, remain uncompleted. The project also incurred delays ranging 243 to 486 days without any liquidated damages imposed [2009 AAR].
Palatino said that based on the COA findings, anomalies shroud military activities for the fiscal year 2008 and 2009.
“If we add the amounts stated in the COA findings, we get around P2.7 billion. That amount is more than what whistle-blowers George Rabusa and Heidi Mendoza have already exposed,” Palatino said.
“The alleged corruption in the military as divulged by Mr. Rabusa and Ms. Mendoza transpired between 2000 to 2002. But in the 2010 COA findings, it has been recorded that corruption in the military may continued even up to 2009,” Palatino said.
Palatino noted that the period of the corruption cases stated by the Rabusa, Mendoza and the COA report practically cover the term of former President Macapagal-Arroyo.
“This adds evidence to the speculation that the military may have been stealing money from the people in most, if not the whole, of Arroyo’s term as President,” Palatino said
He reasoned that “Ms. Arroyo should definitely be held accountable for what these alleged plunderers from the military may have been doing under her watch. She was the boss-chief, to use an informal term, so she definitely must have known about these alleged military wrongdoings.”
While President, Arroyo has been entangled in various corruption cases which notably include the NBN-ZTE deal, fertilizer scam, Macapagal road construction, Jose Pidal account, Northrail project, bribery to government officials amidst impeachment moves and the Hello-Garci scandal.
“The 2010 COA findings add to the numerous cases that pin Arroyo and the military as major actors in our country’s tragic story of corruption,” Palatino said.
Aquino ‘chickened out’?
“Because of these exposés, more anomalies during GMA’s term between 2001 to 2010 will definitely come to the fore. These cases might again involve the military and even other government agencies and officials,” Palatino said.
In relation to the role of the Ombudsman as a watchdog of the government, Palatino scored Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for “not being able to do her job well.”
“So many corruption cases filed to her office but none seems to have been substantially addressed,” Palatino said.
Palatino also stressed that the public hearings on the military payoffs and deals with the Ombudsman will come to waste if the new Aquino administration will not be able to swing the hand of justice.
“The people are expecting President Aquino to end corruption and punish corrupt officials who served – and continue to serve – in the government. But sadly up to now, his political will to charge Arroyo and her cohorts is only as strong as a flimsy twig. Might he already have chickened out to the Arroyo camp?”
Palatino urged President Aquino to “grab the opportunity accorded by the bravery of Rabusa and Mendoza and hunt corrupt government officials.”
“As I see it, either President Aquino makes proper use of these events to thoroughly address the issue of corruption or his promise of social change means absolutely nothing,” Palatino said.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino
Bugsy Nolasco, Media Officer, Kabataan Partylist