BUSINESSMEN  WORRIED, APPALLED BY REVELATIONS OF MASSIVE GRAFTS IN AFP


[PHOTO - Arch. FELINO “Jun” A. PALAFOX, JR.- PRESIDENT OF 'MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP)]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 4, 2011 (STAR) By Elisa Osorio - Business managers are “appalled” by revelations of “massive” corruption in the military and are calling on President Aquino to form an independent body to investigate the allegations.

“We strongly request the President to act with speed and use the full force of the law against all involved in these anomalies,” the Management Association of the Philippines said in a statement yesterday. “We, in the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), are appalled by the alleged massive corruption in the AFP.”

The alleged corruption in the AFP came into focus following a Senate testimony by a former military budget officer that former chief of staff Angelo Reyes and at least two other AFP chiefs illegally received millions of pesos drawn from military funds called provisions for command-directed activities or PCDA.

“Corruption in public service in general, and the AFP in particular, is anti-poor and is blatantly opposed to the kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (there are no poor where there are no corrupt) battle cry of President Benigno C. Aquino III,” MAP said.

In his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee last Thursday, retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa said Reyes received P5 million monthly when he was AFP chief and P50 million upon his retirement in 2001.

Rabusa said it was a “tradition” in the military to reward its chiefs with huge sums of pabaon or sendoff and pasalubong or welcome money. He said another former AFP chief, Gen. Diomedio Villanueva also benefited from the same “tradition.”

The original agenda in the Senate hearing was the plea bargain deal between the Ombudsman and former military comptroller retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is facing plunder charges.

In a House justice committee hearing Tuesday also on the plea bargaining agreement, another whistleblower, former state auditor Heidi Mendoza said she had been pressured by her superiors to go slow on her investigation of Garcia. She said even the million dollar reimbursements from the United Nations for Filipino troops in peacekeeping missions didn’t escape the attention of corrupt officials.

MAP said the alleged irregularities unmasked by Rabusa and Mendoza threatened to completely erode the confidence of the people in the military.

The public funds that ended up in the pockets of AFP officials and their families could have been used to enhance AFP’s capacity to fight insurgents, fund its modernization program, and improve the conditions of ordinary Filipino soldiers, MAP said.

“We urge other government officials to join Mendoza and Rabusa in bringing to light the anomalous activities in the AFP and in other public offices,” MAP said.

“We encourage Congress to immediately enact the Freedom of Information Law which will give access to information heretofore hidden from public scrutiny,” it added.

“We urge the government to provide the necessary protection to truth-tellers like Mendoza and whistle-blowers like Rabusa,” MAP pointed out.

“We, in the MAP, can only hope that something good will come out of all of these shocking revelations, something that will assist all of us in ‘MAPping a Culture of Integrity.’”

No more PCDA

AFP chief of staff Gen. Ricardo David told the House justice committee that there is no more PCDA in his office.

But apparently, there are still appropriations in the military, whose purpose is very much like that of the PCDA’s.

“We have devolved the funds to the major services,” he said.

Rabusa said the fund has reached P480 million over a two-year period.

Retired Gen. Narciso Abaya, who served as military chief in 2003-2004, said he was the one who discontinued the PCDA.

He said he used the fund for emergencies during his time, such as for airlifting wounded soldiers in Mindanao when no Air Force planes were available.

Abaya and four other former AFP chiefs – Dionisio Santiago, Generoso Senga, Hermogenes Esperon, and Alexander Yano – denied getting pasalubong or pabaon.

Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chairman of the House appropriations committee, has told The STAR in a text message that there has never been a PCDA in the budget for the AFP.

“It was a creation of the AFP, eventually abolished by Gen. Narciso Abaya,” he said.

Meanwhile, the team formed by the Department of National Defense to investigate the alleged corruption in the armed forces will have a pre-investigation conference tomorrow.

DND spokesman Eduardo Batac said the team would tackle how funds were processed before and after the comptrollership of Garcia.

“This pre-investigation conference will be open (to the media). The resource management office chief of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will present a chart to show how funds have been generated and how these have been disposed,” Batac said. He said reforms have improved the disbursement of funds in the AFP.

“These reforms and processes have been magnified to guard against abuses. These reforms have been implemented strictly,” he said.

“(Because of the) checks and balances, it would be hard for someone to commit abuses. He has to connive with many people to accomplish his aim,” he said.

No demoralization

For Malacañang, the outrage stirred by the exposé on massive corruption in the AFP is unlikely to cause demoralization among soldiers.

“I think if the public will see that we’re doing the right thing, demoralization will not happen,” Secretary for Communications Ricky Carandang told reporters.

“If the allegations are proven true, and the government and the armed forces can do what is necessary to correct that, then I think that will actually boost the morale (of the soldiers) over the long term,” Carandang explained.

Asked to comment on the statement of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers on the reported demoralization in the AFP, he said “it depends on your perspective.”

“Some people may be demoralized, but other soldiers that we’re aware of, are happy that these things are coming out now and they’re hoping that a proper resolution to this happens,” Carandang said.

“So maybe some are demoralized, maybe some are encouraged by what’s happening,” he said.

He declined to comment though on Mendoza’s House testimony.

“We’re monitoring that, we’re also evaluating what she’s saying and on that basis we would decide what course of action we would take. Again, we’re evaluating what’s coming out with the hearings,” Carandang said.

He also dismissed concerns that Mendoza’s allegations have embarrassed the AFP.

“I think the bravery of Heidi in revealing this would repel any kind of embarrassment.”

Carandang also said they would rather not judge Reyes at this point. “It would be difficult to prejudge anyone’s guilt or innocence until we’ve seen the whole picture. So let’s wait for what other revelations are made and what evidence there is to support them,” he said.

Joint probe

The House opposition bloc is pushing for a joint congressional probe on anomalies in the AFP.

“It is better that a joint congressional investigation be conducted as soon as possible so that we could go deeper so that there would be no different conclusions that would come out from different forums,” House Minority Leader and Albay Rep Edcel Lagman said. He also said the inquiry should not be limited to former armed forces chiefs of the Estrada and Ramos administrations.

He recalled similar joint congressional investigations in the past whose results were “very much appreciated.”

“It would be good for the public if we have one report, one set of recommendations, and one common finding,” Lagman said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he was open to Lagman’s suggestion but said the separate probes are doing well even if they’re following different tracks.

“If we see that we are already overlapping in our hearings, then maybe we can conduct the investigation jointly,” Belmonte said.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Majority Leader and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo proposed that non-uniformed career civil servants be made to directly supervise financial reporting and accounting in the Armed Forces.

“This (proposal) is one way to curb the rampant misuse of military funds that is depriving our foot soldiers and their ground officers the full support that they need in the field,” Romulo said.

“With uniformed personnel looking after military funds, they are under the total control of their superior officers,” Romulo said.

He said lower ranking officers “who defy their superiors would be extremely vulnerable to trumped-up court-martial proceedings, or to summary field reassignments.” -With Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla, and Alexis Romero

ABOUT MAP

Profile: MAP THRUST FOR 2011

MAP has adopted “MAPping a CULTURE of INTEGRITY” as its theme for 2011.

MAP defines “CULTURE” as “a way of life” and “INTEGRITY” as “adherence to highest ethical standards, good governance principles (transparency, accountability and fairness) and management excellence.”

MAP calls on its members to steadfastly adhere to the highest ethical standards, good governance principles and management excellence, while courageously confronting the growing complexity of managing businesses in an ever challenging environment.

The imperative for MAP members is to stay competitive no matter where they are or what businesses they are in. Hence, MAP will continue conducting programs that will enable MAP members and their businesses to enhance their unique capabilities and competencies.

MAP fully supports the Integrity Initiative which aims to promote integrity and accountability in business. MAP members are strongly urged to expressly commit to ethical business practices and good corporate governance through the Integrity Pledge.

While the government has its own initiatives for reducing corruption and lowering the cost of doing business, members of the business community should realize that those initiatives cannot succeed without individual and collective commitment from businesses to level the playing field and build integrity in the business environment.

MAP members must lead by example in the fight against corruption by managing their businesses ethically and with integrity, paying the right taxes, taking care of their stakeholders and the environment, and not tolerating bribery.

MAP’s thrust for 2011 will have 3 pillars as follows:

4Members Benefits

4Advocacies for Management Excellence
 - Good Governance
 - Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
 - Environmental Sustainability

4Programs for Management Excellence

MAP PROFILE

MAP is a 60-year-old management organization whose 749 members (as of 3 February 2011) represent a cross-section of CEOs, COOs and other top management practitioners from the largest local and multinational companies operating in the Philippines. MAP also counts some top management educators and government officials as its members.

MAP’s mission is to promote management excellence through sharing of best management practices; educational activities that enhance the knowledge and skills of management practitioners and educators nationwide through learning forums and discussions; training and development programs that produce professional managers; networking and building alliances among its members for exploring and sharing business opportunities; and advocacy for reforms that help shape a brighter future for the Philippines. For more information on MAP, please visit .

MAP BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR 2011

President - Architect FELINO “Jun” A. PALAFOX, JR. Principal Architect - Urban Planner/Founder, Palafox Associates

Vice President - Ms. ELIZABETH “Beth” H. LEE COO, Universal Motors Corporation President, Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI)

Treasurer - Mr. EDUARDO “Ed” V. FRANCISCO President, BDO Capital and Investment Corporation

Secretary - Ms. PACITA “Chit” U. JUAN Co-Chair, Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. Founder, Figaro

Governors - Mr. FRANCISCO “Popoy” F. DEL ROSARIO JR. President, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)

Mr. FRANCISCO “Frankie” C. EIZMENDI JR. President, Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) Former President, San Miguel Corporation

Mr. GREGORIO “Greg” S. NAVARRO President, Carl Jung Circle Center Former CEO, Punongbayan and Araullo

Ms. LYDIA P. SARMIENTO Chair, Corporate Social Responsibility Institute (CSRI)

Mr. JAMES G. VELASQUEZ President and Country General Manager, IBM Philippines, Inc.

[SOURCE: The MAP website at http://www.map.com.ph/ ]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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