PALACE NOT GIVING UP ON TRUTH COMMISSION / EDITORIAL: SHOCKING

[PRESIDENT AQUINO SWEARING OATH OF OFFICE TO APPOINTED HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS RAMON CARANDANG]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 6, 2011 (TRIBUNE) By Aytch S. de la Cruz - The Palace will not let go of President Aquino’s desire to form the Truth Commission, saying that it will pursue with the Supreme Court efforts to justify Executive Order 1 that created the truth body and which the tribunal had ruled as unconstitutional because of the equal protection clause in the Charter.

Presidential Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang (photo at right) welcomed but expressed no commitment yet on behalf of Malacañang when asked to comment on Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s suggestion that instead of fighting for the Truth Commission, Aquino might just as well come up with an anti-graft council to look into the current and previous allegations of corruption in the government.

Before Aquino assumed the presidency, there was already an existing Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) attached to the Office of the President but Aquino through Executive Order 13 abolished the agency in late November last year and transferred all its investigative functions to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (Odesla).

Cayetano had said that a new anti-graft and corruption council could help Aquino start investigations on several scandals that rocked the previous administration.

Carandang, in response, explained that Malacañang is yet to properly respond on issues about the Truth Commission since a motion for reconsideration that was filed by the Palace legal team is still pending with the Supreme Court.

“What we are doing right now is to have the departments themselves conduct their own investigation on the anomalies that may be uncovered and these will be submitted to Malacañang which it will most likely forward to the Department of Justice. So we are undertaking a process to continue the investigation. Now, whether or not we need to create another body is something that I think is better answered by our legal team. But that [Cayetano’s suggestion] may be studied,” Carandang said.

Carandang also dismissed statements that the recent congressional hearings conducted by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the allegations of large scale corruption in the military have become sort of a “witch hunt” on former high-ranking officials that served the AFP during the Arroyo administration.

He said had it not been for these inquiries led by the legislative chambers, the revelations of former state auditor Heidi Mendoza and former AFP budget officer George Rabusa, on how the previous military officials have allegedly stolen military funds, these anomalies would not have been made known to the public.

TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Shocking 02/06/2011

Most shocking thus far is the call of Noynoy and his Palace boys for the junior officers to rat on their superiors.

Shocking it is because of the consequences of such a call, given the hierarchical military system and the chain of command and the instilling of discipline in the soldiery.

The call may sound great, as junior officers have now received the signal from their Commander in Chief to squeal on their bosses, should they know that their superiors are in on corruption. But there is also the flip side, as the new “order” in the military supplanting the “old” order, could also create a lot of other problems within the military structure, such as inventing charges against several bosses, for the junior officers to be promoted faster and faster too, in taking on the top posts.

But as usual, the communicators of Noynoy and his student council government defended the call of Noynoy, through his executive secretary, for the junior officers to fink on their superiors, saying this won’t undermine the chain of command.

Of course it does. A junior officer is not expected to bypass his superiors. If he does, he gets charged under some article of war violation.

Besides, what superior would want a lower ranking officer to treat him in such a manner? It can go both ways. A junior officer can always claim to rat on his superior, but at the same time, that officer can certainly discipline his junior officers. So who would be telling the truth?

Just a few months back, a military officer finked on the goings on in the military promotions, pointing to the current Defense chief as dictating who should be promoted. He also spoke of officers still engaging in partisan politics. So what happened to him? He was not just demoted, but placed in the freezer.

But as Communications and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said, the grievance system is already in place in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that will address allegations of graft.

He said: “This process has long been in place and if it did not undermine the hierarchy in the last five years, I don’t see why it would undermine the hierarchy today.”

Duh, Ricky. The grievance mechanism has always been in place, and nothing, but nothing happens to a junior officer’s plaint since this goes through the mill, and usually stops at a pretty low level.

If the grievance system worked, it stands to reason then that the corruption in the military after the Angie Reyeses, the Diomedio Villanuevas, the Santiagos, the Abayases, the Abus and every chief of staff and their budget officers would have been exposed much earlier. And even now, under a new AFP leadership, there is absolutely no guarantee that the corruption has suddenly stopped. But no one is talking.

All the nation is getting is the corruption expose during the time of at least three AFP chiefs of staff, while the rest have only been made to deny that they ever got pabaons and also deny that they put their finger in the military pie.

If the grievance system worked, why has there been no one talking about the corruption, say of even five years ago, or a year ago, or even what is going on in the present leadership of the military?

What we hear from the AFP today is that this corrupt system is gone, and that today’s military is honest, professional and transparent.

And we are supposed to swallow that, hook, line and sinker? These were the same junior officers then who are now in high places. The ways of the corrupt do not change. They merely become more careful not to get caught.

At this time, with Malacañang wanting to keep on bringing up all these corruption exposes under the previous government, mainly to divert the focus of public attention from Noynoy and his do-nothing administration, even active soldiers are allowed to testify before a congressional hearing, and this is being done without seeking the permission of his superiors as well as his Commander in Chief. This is already a clear bypass by a junior officer of his superiors.

But if that’s how Noynoy and the Palace want to play it, military-wise, then so be it — but they have to accept the consequences, which is what they in Malacañang today are allowing — without anyone’s permission — the same should be allowed should there be more corruption activities within Noynoy’s military that would be exposed by junior officers, without their superiors’ permission.

Truth is, Noynoy created for himself a huge headache by destroying the military chain of command.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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