MANILA, Philippines - The chief of the country’s 85,000-strong Army has been accused of playing favorites and interfering with the training of candidate officers.
An unsigned statement circulating around Camp Aguinaldo has accused Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes of favoring a trainee who flunked the physical fitness tests and relieving the officers who administered them.
The writers of the unnamed statement were making it appear that they are candidate officers but this has yet to be verified.
Coballes, however, said he is being vilified by sectors that are against his “no maltreatment policy.”
“Probably those who made that (statement) do not want changes in the school,” he said in a press conference Monday.
“I’ve been telling people to do away with the maltreatment. We can make the course hard without any maltreatment,” he added.
The unsigned statement said a trainee merely identified as “Dumbguard Romualdez” has been ratting on the training officers to Coballes. It claimed that Coballes had summoned the officers because of Romaldez’s report.
Sources said the statement was referring to a certain Aaron Romualdez, a trainee of the Officer Candidate School (OCS).
Coballes allegedly relieved four training officers from the OCS because of the favored trainee.
The statement also cited an instance when group of trainees were misbehaving during a talk by their superiors.
Those who called the attention of the trainees were supposedly accused of harassment and reportedly made Coballes furious. The statement claimed one of the kids who misbehaved is a godchild (“inaanak”) of Coballes.
Coballes was also accused of sending his staff to investigate training officers after his godchild got sick.
“Just because of one kid, the OCS tradition that we so dearly love would be trampled just like that,” the statement read.
Responding to the allegations, Coballes said his reforms in the Army training schools are being resisted by a few trainees and junior officers.
“We are saddened that there are still those who believe that discipline can be instilled through violence. It is the intent of the Army leadership to change this kind of principle,” the Army chief said.
“It would be better for the whole organization that these officers/soldiers be removed from the service,” he added.
Coballes said the "no maltreatment policy" is part of the Army Transformation Roadmap, which seeks to produce disciplined and motivated soldiers.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said the Army could not instill discipline or competence among trainees if they are subjected to physical abuse.
“The philosophy of employing physical violence among trainees should be struck down, because the practice only breeds abusers and rights violators,” he said.