AFP shortcomings on UN fund explained

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2011 07:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2011 03:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officer told media on Wednesday that the ongoing military corruption scandal has left some USD 3.3 million in reimbursements from the United Nations for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployment as peacekeeping forces in Haiti frozen.

Elmer Cato, former first secretary of the Philippine Mission to United Nations, was a resource person at the House National Defense Committee's inquiry into the military corruption scandal today.

Cato said the amount, intact in an account of the Philippine consul in New York, is meant to be credited to the National Treasury. However, the AFP wants to credit it to its own account.

Cato noted the that military's finances, as uncovered in ongoing congressional investigations, were all lumped together into one account despite having different sources and intended beneficiaries.

The DFA wants the AFP to sort it out before releasing the money.

Cato said the DFA initially didn't want to take the money from the UN, but the UN told them that unless the DFA gets the money, the world body will just pay other countries with peacekeeping deployments.

"We don't want to get the money from the UN first because of the ongoing controversy and also yung question ng custody, but the UN told us that if you don't get these funds, we will be compelled to give it to other contributing countries that have not been paid, and it was actually the UN that recommended a solution for us to keep it in a bank in the US, and we did with instructions from Manila," he said.

Cato said the DFA has proposed 4 requirements which the AFP must meet before the DFA releases the money.

He enumerated them as: "One, transfer to a government depository bank. We wanted it transferred initially from UCPB [United Coconut Planters Bank] to the Land Bank; two, for the AFP to inform all peacekeepers that when they will be deployed, this will be the amount that they will be getting; third, review the inter-agency mechanism (on the peacekeeping deployment); fourth, for the AFP to ensure that funding requirements for future deployments will be in their budget."

Cato said that, so far, the AFP has failed to comply with 2 of the requirements.

"Hindi nako-comply yung dalawa, so hindi naming marelease-release yan. At the same time, yung concern nga natin, although we've been made aware of the need to remit to the National Treasury, we really have to balance between fulfilling our international obligations as a member of the United Nations, and to observing local regulations natin, especially accounting and auditing procedures."

Cato said they are also eyeing other solutions like the creation of a national peacekeeping fund.