MANILA, Philippines – A former military officer revealed on Tuesday the extent of corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines that involved several officials.
Cash allotments for military supplies from the now-defunct Office of the AFP Comptroller (J6) were “converted” and several officials took kickbacks, retired Lt. Col. Romeo Mateo said in the ongoing Senate hearing on alleged irregularities in the Armed Forces.
“Kung ako po ang tatanungin niyo sir, kung sa level ko po as J7 as budget officer, mapprove ko sir na may conversion,” said Mateo, who was chief special and budget officer of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for civil military operations (J7).
“Ang J6 kasi magrerelease sa akin ng mga allotment advices. Iki-clear namin, gagawin naming pera iyan. Pag tapos na babalik na sa J6,sir. sila na ang bahala magdistribute kung kanino ibibigay ang pera,” he added.
Mateo also worked under former military budget officer George Rabusa, who earlier blew the lid open on alleged corruption in the military.
“Gusto ko pong patunayan sa committee na ito na si Colonel Rabusa ay nagsasabi ng buong katotohanan. Gusto ko rin po ipaalam sa inyo na noong ako ay nasa serbisyo pa, regular kami na nagcoconvert ng mga allotment advises na nnaggagaling sa J6 at ibinabalik namin ang pera bilang return to sender sa mga budget officer ng J6 noong araw katulad nila Maj. Villagarcia, Lt. Col. Bukan, Lt. Col. Raphael Leno, Col. Rabusa, Gen. De Leon na lieutenant colonel pa noon at ngayon si Col. Arevalo.
“Out of the clearances 1.5% monthly minimum for every conversion ang iniwan sa amin,” he said.
Division of spoils
Mateo, who submitted a sworn affidavit to the Senate, said that under the “conversion” scheme, the following offices took a share of the total cash:
- Chief accountant of the general headquarters: 2%
- Commanding officer of the finance center: 1%
- General headquarters auditor from the Commission on Audit: 1%
- Office of J7 (commanding general of J7): 3%
- Budget officer: 1.5%
- Civil military operations activities: 1%
Mateo said military officers who study abroad are given send-off money. “Kunyari may mag-schooling abroad, dadaan sa amin, may pabaon kami.”
He said the conversion scheme was being done as early as 1989. ”May conversion na since 1989 pero maliliit pa ang kini-clear namin. Mga P2 million.”
“Noong natransfer ako sa J7, yung P 2 million, umabot ng 11.1% [kickback] monthly regular,” he revealed.
Mateo added that he “inherited” the practice from a certain Lt. Col. Casabar. “Namana ko lang po iyan eh. Kay Lt. Col. Casabar po, sir. Ako po ang pumalit, ipinakita sa amin ang papeles, itinuloy ko na.”
He said the monthly average of cash that went through his office to be liquidated reached between P10 million to P11.1 million. “Puwede lumaki depende ipatrabaho nila sa amin. Pag mas malaki, mas malaki ang kita namin.”
“Pag malaki ang pinapaclear hindi ko na tinatanong,” he said, when asked if money was allotted for an AFP chief of staff was is to retire. “Hindi ko na po matandaan pero talaga sir, mayroon. Hindi ko po itatanggi iyan.”
In exchange for his testimony, he asked government for immunity as well as be given security for his safety.
Mateo said he came forward in response to a call by former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo for officials to reveal military anomalies.
“Sana rin po sir, sa aking paglabas, maisakatuparan ang pananaw ng ating Pangulo ng tuwid na landas,” he added.