MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) may assume oversight powers, including the procurement process, from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a bid to cleanse it of the perceived corruption.
In a press conference this morning, DND spokesman Eduardo Batac said the ad-hoc committee created by the department in January has filtered proposals to rid the military of scandals down to 10. The report is supposedly 100 pages long.
Batac said the “investigating committee has already finalized its report, and the discussions have already been done with the secretary of National Defense...Basically, they’ve got 10 items in the findings.”
One of these is a recommendation to create an acquisition bureau under the DND “to professionalize the procurement and logistics service…which only means that the logistics arm of the AFP might be elevated to the DND.”
The oversight offices, such as the Office of the Internal Audit, Office of the Inspector General and even the Judge Advocate General may also be elevated to the DND.
“These are all offices which exercise review and investigate and [pursue] oversight functions over the different areas especially on the logistics and the financial management systems of the AFP,” he said. There are about 10 of them named in the report.
This means that the DND will “civilianize” the positions, he said.
“The move is to take this out of the chain of command because it has been observed that the offices become ineffective…they report for example to the chief of staff [who is only concerned] about the operations of the AFP,” he added.
The major recommendations are: computerization of the AFP Logistics and financial management system; strict implementation of the laws, rules and regulations; creation of the Defense Acquisition Bureau; transfer of the offices of internal auditor, inspector general, judge advocate general, and ethical standards and public accountability from the AFP to the DND; enhancement and strengthening of the auditing and monitoring mechanisms which involve asset disclosure and lifestyle checks; shift from cash logistics to real logistics by way of the improved cash advance system; continuing educational and morality enhancement program; auditing of the intelligence funds, reconstruction of AFP financial and logistics documentation; and continued implementation of the Defense System of Management that was conceptualized during the Arroyo administration.
The creation of the committee stemmed from investigations done in Congress with regard to corruption in the military.
The supposed irregularity in the plea bargain deal entered into by the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia spawned several more controversies. The most revealing of all was the testimony of former budget officer George Rabusa that some Armed Forces chiefs received send-off or welcome gifts obtained from the military’s budget.
The DND earlier said the report of the special committee will actually be reform-oriented.
During the course of the investigation, however, Batac said the panel also uncovered several more violations.
“There are specific recommendations with regards to personalities already which were uncovered by the committee itself…for example, [the] violation of rules and regulations which contribute to the bigger offenses eventually…,” he added.
Cases will be pursued against the officials involved, he said.