PNoy berates implicated officials in AFP corruption

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2011 11:49 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2011 09:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Saturday berated "forgetful" military officials implicated in the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in front of their fellow military men at the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming in Baguio City.

"Talaga naman pong nakakalungkot. Mayroon po tayong napapakinggan sa mga pagdinig. Talaga pong malaki ang kasalanan sa taumbayan diumano at ang isinasagot sa taumbayan nauuwi parati sa 'Hindi ko naaalala'," Aquino said in his speech.

(It's really sad that in congressional hearings, we hear some people [implicated in the military fund mess], who are being questioned for allegedly committing sins against the country, always answer 'I do not remember'.)

Aquino added: "Susmaryosep, hindi pa naman ho ata ganun katanda para maging ulyanin (I don't think they are that old to be that forgetful.)"

The remarks did not invite applause from Aquino's audience who are members of various classes in the PMA, unlike in the earlier part of his speech.

Earlier in his speech, Aquino said that as commander-in-chief, he feels that PMA graduates and members of both the AFP and the Philippine National Police are greatly affected by the controversy.

Former military budget officer George Rabusa, a member of PMA Class of 1981, blew the whistle on military corruption during the Senate's inquiry into the plea bargain agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos F. Garcia.

Rabusa accused Angelo Reyes, PMA Class 1966; Diomedio Villanueva, PMA Class 1968; and Roy Cimatu, PMA Class 1970, of receiving "pasalubong" (welcome) and "pabaon" (send-off) money during their stints as AFP chiefs.

Reyes committed suicide days after being implicated by Rabusa. Cimatu and Villanueva appeared for the first time at the Senate on Thursday and denied the allegation.

Rabusa also implicated former comptrollers Garcia, a member of PMA Class 1971, and Jacinto Ligot, a classmate of Cimatu, in the alleged military corruption.

Support inquiries

Aquino said that he supports the Senate inquiry on Rabusa's allegations and he is confident that military and police officials present at the alumni homecoming will support the efforts to uncover the truth.

"Tiwala po akong kasangga natin dito ang iba't ibang klaseng ating kasama sa araw na ito (I'm confident that various [PMA] classes are with me)," the President said.

Aquino said he believes that aside from the military officials implicated in the fund mess, high-ranking officials are also involved in the alleged military corruption.

Rabusa had said that the corruption activities detailed in his revelations happened between 2001 and 2002, the early years of the previous administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Aquino also assured the PMA graduates and its cadet corps that he will not let these people go unpunished, including state prosecutors involved in the plea bargain deal with Garcia. He added that he will make sure that corruption in the military will not thrive during his administration.

Calm, impartiality

In his welcoming address, PMA superintendent Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon urged his fellow cavaliers to remain calm and impartial amid the ongoing hearings in Congress.

"While the investigations are ongoing, I urge the alumni not to condemn or prejudge anyone until rulings and decisions are reached by judicial authorities," Calderon said.

He also pleaded to the crowd of military officials not to "instigate or be swayed by hate campaigns" against the people who have been implicated in the controversy.

"I hope that we all remain calm and impartial," Calderon added.

He said he hopes that all of the military and police officials who attended the homecoming will be reminded of the 3 virtues that the PMA worked hard to instill in its cadets -- courage, integrity and loyalty.