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MANILA, Philippines – Six retired generals, including two former chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces, face plunder charges over allegations by their former budget officer that they misused military funds.
Five others are in the plunder charge recommended by the Department of Justice (DOJ), including a longtime aide de camp of the late Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes. It is now up the the Office of the Ombudsman to determine whether this would be filed immediately in court.
The 11 retired and active-duty military officers and civilian officials recommended to be charged with plunder are: retired AFP chiefs Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu; retired military comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot; retired Maj Gen Hilario Atendido; former Brig Gen Benito de Leon; retired Lt Col Ernesto Paranis; active-duty officers Col Cirilo Tomas Donato, Col Roy de Vesa (a longtime Reyes aide); former civilian auditor of Divina Cabrera; and former accountant Generoso del Castillo.
Three of these officers were closely associated with Reyes: the two ex-comptrollers, Garcia and Ligot, and Col. Devesa.
Ligot was comptroller when Reyes was chief of staff. Then before he moved to the defense department, Reyes handpicked Garcia as Ligot’s successor as comptroller, or head of the office of the deputy chief of staff for comptrollership (J6). Devesa was Reyes’s senior aide when the latter was chief of staff and defense secretary.
The AFP was forced to abolish J6 in 2004, when Garcia was jailed following the arrest of his two sons in the US for smuggling US$100,000.
In 2010, the Sandiganbayan downgraded the case against him, allowing Garcia to post bail and be released.
But in September 2011, the military jailed him again over a military conviction for his failure to declare his wealth and the fact that he was a holder of a US green card.
The DOJ found insufficient evidence to charge 11 others.
Those spared the plunder suit are: former AFP chief Efren Abu; current Bureau of Corrections director and retired Lt Gen Gaudencio Pangilinan; retired Maj Gen Epineto Logico; Capt Kenneth Paglinawan; Col Gilbert Gapay; Maj Emerson Angulo; Col. Robert Arevalo; retired Maj Gen Ernesto Boac, who is now the Assistant Secretary for Comptrollership, Department of National Defense; and Commission on Audit auditors Arturo Besana, Crisanto Gabriel and Manuel Warren.
In April 2011, whistle-blower ex-Army Lt Col George Rabusa filed a plunder complaint against all these officers and civilians over charges they pocketed military funds.
The 87-page complaint, amended later to include more respondents, detailed the alleged conversion of some P1.5 billion in AFP funds into the generals’ pool of discretionary resources. Rabusa claimed the funds were unaudited.
Before this, Rabusa appeared at a Senate hearing to expose the massive conversion in the military, or the practice of diverting funds into undbugeted programs.
He accused former AFP and defense chief Angelo Reyes of using millions for his personal use. Days after Rabusa’s expose, Reyes shot himself to death in front of the grave of his mother in Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina.
Rabusa and Reyes were also very close. They worked together at the office of the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, or J2, in the 1990s.
Rabusa served for a long time as a budget officer first of the Army and then the entire AFP. – with reports from Purple Romero/Rappler.com