Fr. Joe Dizon of Pagbabago said the recent exposé on corruption in the military is another test for the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he (President Aquino) is serious (in fighting corruption).”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should also be investigated for her role in the systemic corruption in the Philippine military, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said today.
“The previous government allowed this sordid practice to remain because it kept the generals happy at a time when Arroyo’s rule was being threatened by calls for her ouster. Apart from the corrupt generals, the corrupt commander-in-chief should also be probed for her possible complicity in all this,” Renato Reyes, Jr., Bayan secretary general, said.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesman of Pagbabago!, said corruption inside the military was tolerated by Arroyo in exchange for their allegiance and loyalty. “She overused the military compared to Ferdinand Marcos even if there was martial law then. Arroyo did not only use the military to get rid of her critics but also to stay in power,” said Dizon citing the 2004 election fraud. “Not even Marcos did that.”
The 2004 elections were marred with massive fraud. Not a few military officers were implicated in the controversial “Hello Garci” tapes, the wiretapped conversations allegedly between former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Arroyo.
Dizon said the recent expose´ on corruption inside the military is another test to the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he is serious [in fighting corruption],” Dizon said but noted that the Aquino government is “too slow” in resolving the problems of corruption.
Dizon said Arroyo should have been arrested since the day she stepped down from power. He said there is enough evidence to prosecute Arroyo, citing the evidences gathered for the many impeachment complaints filed against her but were seemingly swept under the rug.
“He [Aquino] is projecting that he is clean. But it is unacceptable to be just clean without doing anything decisive. If he wants to convey a strong message then it should be as loud as the wang-wang (referring to sirens that Aquino ordered banned),” Dizon said.
The activist Catholic priest added that if Aquino has strong political will, he could prosecute Arroyo and other corrupt officials as well as retired AFP comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia and his cohorts.
“Reform in the government does not start from eradicating corruption alone. There has to be an overhaul in the social structure, in which the government is led only by the elite,” Dizon said during an interview with Bulatlat. He pointed out that for as long as the leaders of the government have their personal interest in mind other than serving the Filipino people, there would always be corruption.
“Anti-corruption is a continuing advocacy. People should be vigilant even if there is a new government,” Dizon added.
In a separate statement sent through email, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said: “There can be no rectification of past crimes without true accounting and punishment of top criminals in the government and military.”
Foot Soldiers and Junior Officers
“The large-scale corruption and luxurious lifestyle of top government military officials and their families have always hit a sensitive nerve among the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s foot soldiers and junior officers who bear the brunt of reduced and delayed salaries; unpaid life insurance; lack of housing, medical, pension and other social benefits; theft of their combat rations and substandard field equipment bought with huge kickbacks,” the CPP said.
CPP said widespread demoralization exists among the middle and lower ranks of the AFP, “not only because such mega-plunderers are in command, but also because rank-and-file and junior officers are the ones being used as cannon fodder in a losing war.” (Bulatlat.com)