Eliminating corruption tops agenda of new AFP chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2011 11:40 AM | Updated as of Mar 08 2011 02:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The new chief of staff of the Armed Forces on Monday pledged to eradicate corruption and promote greater transparency in the military, which is still reeling from allegations that former military chiefs pocketed millions of pesos in taxpayers' money.
 
In a speech during turnover ceremonies in Camp Aguinaldo, AFP chief of staff Eduardo Oban Jr. said he will sustain the reform initiatives of his predecessors, particularly retiring AFP chief Ricardo David Jr. He said he will adopt the recommendations of the 2005 Feliciano Commission that investigated the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.

"We shall have nothing to fear if we have nothing to hide," he said.

Oban pledged to strengthen the AFP procurement process by ensuring the accountability of all military resource managers. He also pledged to fully computerize the procurement system and push for amendments in the Government Procurement Reform Act that will allow for new systems where transactions leave indelible credit trails.

He pledged to safeguard funds from all sources "including the Balikatan and the United Nations funds and especially those coming from our taxes, the blood and sweat from our people."

He added that he will hold himself accountable for the proper and effective use of the funds.

Oban, who will stay as AFP chief for 9 months before retiring on December 13, said he will strengthen institutional checks and balances by undertaking more unannounced audits. "I pledge to strengthen enforcement and prosecution of those who are not willing to work in this same pledge," he said.

The new AFP chief said he will seek to remove 2 basic conditions that breed corruption in the military: opportunity and motivation.

He also sought to promote a culture in the AFP where every soldier will not tolerate corrupt practices.

Oban said he will also pay attention to the AFP commissary, which sells basic commodities to soldiers at discounted prices. "We will make a real SM. Soldier's Mall," he said to laughter.

Finally, he also made a push to end the problem of internal security threats in the country. He likened the problem to the Biblical story of David defeating Goliath with only a slingshot.

"Sawa na ang tao sa insurgency, terorismo, bandido at tulisan. Subukan na nating mabuhay sa payapa," he said.

He added: "David worked with what he got. He looked at Goliath not as an adversary too big to defeat but a target too large to miss. Winning the peace gives us a target that is too big to miss." David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com