Cimatu denies pocketing AFP funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2011 10:53 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2011 10:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu has returned to the country to face accusations that he pocketed millions of military funds during his stint as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"I categorically deny that I received any funds for my personal use or aggrandizement... I will not dignify these allegations nor will I second guess the motivation of those who are coming out with these almost after a decade...," Cimatu said, reading a statement before members of the media upon his arrival from the Middle East on Tuesday night.

He said he is ready to face inquiries on military corruption at the Senate and the House of Representatives "to get to the bottom of these allegations."

Cimatu is one of the 3 former military chiefs accused by former AFP budget officer, retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, of pocketing military funds as part of the so-called traditional "pabaon" and "pasalubong" for incoming and outgoing military chiefs.

Cimatu, who stayed for only 4 months as AFP chief of staff in 2002, declined to entertain questions from journalists at the airport to give "due courtesy" to the Senate and House committees conducting the inquiries.

He said he will "share more information" about the supposed "pabaon" and "pasalubong" systems after attending the congressional hearings.

Cimatu said his future statements about the controversy will "ferret out the real truth," and he intends to clear innocent people who have been dragged into the controversy.

The envoy would be the 2nd former AFP chief to be grilled by senators and congressmen about Rabusa's allegations.

Rabusa accused Cimatu of receiving P10 million in military funds after officially taking over as chief of staff plus P80 million before leaving the top AFP post.

Former military chief and defense secretary Angelo Reyes, who was accused of receiving P50 million pabaon, committed suicide on Tuesday morning.

Another former AFP chief, Diomedio Villanueva, allegedly received P164 million, according to Rabusa.