MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Friday urged members of the armed forces to be vigilant and report corrupt activities as more anomalies are disclosed by a retired military budget officer, his former staff, and a former state auditor.
In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said the Aquino government has already initiated reforms to "protect the AFP's coffers from abuse," and appealed to troops to "be vigilant and report the misuse of funds by your superiors."
"Since last year, this administration and the AFP have taken steps to reform the system. Mechanisms have been put in place to protect the AFP's coffers from abuse and to make sure that transactions are transparent and honest, that supplies and equipment intended for our soldiers reach them. But this I ask from our troops: be vigilant and report the misuse of funds by your superiors," Ochoa said.
He also said the government will protect retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa and 2 other witnesses--Col. Antonio Lim and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza--in Congress' ongoing inquiry into military corruption.
“Let it be known that this government will marshal its resources to ensure their safety so they can continue to aid us in finding the truth,” Ochoa said.
He added that they salute the three witnesses for revealing corruption in the military.
Rabusa, a former military budget officer, has accused former AFP chiefs Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu of receiving “pabaon” (send-off money) and committing other corrupt acts.
He said Reyes and Cimatu received P50 million in send-off money, and that Villanueva may have received over P160 million.
Rabusa implicated former military comptrollers Jacinto Ligot and Carlos Garcia in the “pabaon” system and other corrupt activities.
Lim corroborated Rabusa’s allegations during the Senate’s hearing on military corruption on Thursday.
Ochoa said Rabusa’s allegations will be investigated by the government, and all players in the “pabaon” system, including former AFP chiefs, will be held accountable.
“This administration will not allow the misdeeds of a few former military officials involved in this large-scale corruption to dishonor the thousands of men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line to defend and protect the country,” the executive secretary said. -- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News