“We need to ask the crucial questions which Mayuga failed to ask. We need to pursue and undertake legislative remedies to ensure that election fraud is stamped out…” – Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Money flowed like water in May 2004, but no one is saying where all of it went and how it was used.
The two lawmakers of Bayan Muna in the House of Representatives continue to expose the anomalies surrounding the 2004 presidential elections including the massive election fraud and the money that changed hands to make the fraud possible. They have been going over the Mayuga report with fine-toothed comb and continue to demand that congress begin investigations into the fraud that took place May 2010. They said it is crucial to expose the nitty-gritty of how the fraud was pulled off so that it cannot be repeated in future polls.
The Mayuga report is the product of the body that was tasked to investigate the participation of military officials in electoral fraud during the 2004 polls. The Mayuga Board led by former Navy Chief Rear Admiral Mateo Mayuga was tasked in 2005 to investigate ranking military officials, including generals mentioned by Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in the Garci-tapes during the 2004 electoral campaign. The military fact-finding panel cleared the accused top military officials.
Failure to liquidate millions Arroyo released
Representative Teddy Casiño made the charge that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) failed to fully account and liquidate the more than P197 million ($ 4.69 million) it received from the Macapagal-Arroyo administration for the 2004 polls.
The lawmaker said this was evident from the documents included in the Mayuga report. Bayan Muna is insisting on a full investigation into the Mayuga report’s contents including its transcripts. The political party said the issue of what truly transpired during the 2004 polls has been swept under the rug and allowed former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to remain for another six years in office through massive cheating.
Casiño is calling on the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the said funds channelled to the AFP allegedly by the Commission on Elections through the joint Comelec- AFP Task Force HOPE (Honest, Orderly, Peaceful Elections).
“First, we have to know why and how Comelec gave the P197 million ($ 4.69 million) to the AFP to spend in the 2004 elections and where the funds came from. We have it from several sources that a lot of money changed hands,” he said.
Casiño said the disbursements appeared questionable.
“The fact that bulk of the funds – P101 million ($ 2.40 million) – went to an alleged ‘intelligence project’ already raises a red flag. This was mentioned in the report by a certain Ltc. Gilbert Gapay who was then directly under Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. The AFP, particularly the generals and their budget officers, have yet to submit a detailed liquidation of their expenses during and after the elections,” he said.
Casiño said the military should account for the money because the matter was mentioned in different testimonies in annexes in the Mayuga report. It was also said in the testimonies that there was no liquidation of the funds. That by itself should warrant a case against the officers involved but the Mayuga panel ignored this important detail,” he said.
Esperon, then the Deputy Commander of Task Force Hope and concurrently the J3 or Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the AFP told the Mayuga Commission: “On liquidation of funds, it is automatic that when you received funds, you have to liquidate that,” and “on the matter of liquidation of funds it is done by the Comptroller in the Task Force Hope but since Task Force Hope has ceased to exist effective May 25, the matter of liquidating the funds is now on the regular set up, so it’s with J6.”
But when a Lt. Col Robert Arevalo PA-Chief Budget, OJ6 was interviewed , he said he was not privy to the details of budget preparations; he was unaware about who prepared the budget of the Task Groups and he did not know where the funds went.
Arevalo also said the Comelec and not the AFP is answerable for the funds.
“It appears that they’re mixing matters of accounting. Again, this was ignored by the Mayuga Commission even as it appeared obvious that there was really no accounting,” said Casiño.
The lawmaker also cited the testimony of a Lt. Col Alexander Balutan Philippine Navy Marine-Battalion Commander of MBLT 7 who said he received from the Brigade around P50 to P60 thousand ($1,190 to $1,428) in cash as additional subsistence allowance, but the transaction did not go through clearing instruments.
A Lt. Col Victoriano Pimentel PN Marine and Battalion Commander MBLT 4 also received P90,000 to P100,000 ($2,142 – $2,380) from Task Force Comet, but he was not required to submit an expenditure report. When he was given another P70,000 ($1,666), again he was not asked to liquidate the amount. The same happened in the case of a Lt. Col Elmer Estopin PN (M), Batallion Commander of MBLT 10 when he received P75 thousand ($1,785) from a Gen. Habacon .
“Is this the common practice of the AFP? If it is, then it’s no wonder that so much money has been stolen or misused in the AFP. We suspect that the intelligence and operational funds for Task Force Hope was used for fraud. It’s crucial that the House proceeds with an in-depth probe on the Mayuga report and for the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the election funds handled by Gen. Esperon in 2004,” Casiño said.