MANILA - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte has fired the top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines - Health Services Command over allegations of corruption, a spokesman said.
The commander-in-chief directed the relief and start of court martial against Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega, head of the AFP-HSC, and Col. Antonio Punzalan, commander of the V. Luna Medical Center, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Chiefs of the health service command's management and fiscal office and the logistics office were also ordered relieved over alleged anomalous equipment purchases.
Roque, quoting AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr, estimated that a total of 20 officers will be relieved.
"Apparently, it’s a conspiracy…it was institutional corruption in V. Luna," he told reporters.
President Rodrigo Duterte went "ballistic" upon receiving the report that detailed the alleged corruption, Roque said.
"He recently ordered that the sum of 50 million a month be released to V Luna to make sure that V Luna will have sufficient funds to cover all medical requirements of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Roque said.
"Only to find out that much of the funds may be going to pockets of corrupt officials of the Armed Forces," he added.
The officials also engaged in fraudulent transactions including ghost purchasing, splitting of contracts to circumvent mandatory bidding processes, and conceiving fictitious suppliers, Roque said.
A single case where they were involved in amounted to about P1.49 million, and an upcoming report will detail several other transactions amounting to hundreds of millions, he said.
Galvez assured the immediate implementation of the order "without prejudice to the investigation to be conducted by the Ombudsman," said Roque.
The report on corruption came in last Monday, causing the chief executive to be "very aggravated" in talking about corruption in last week's Cabinet meeting because there was also a report on anomalies in Nayong Pilipino Foundation.
Roque announced the firing of the entire Nayong Pilipino board on Tuesday, just as it broke ground on a theme park in Parañaque City.