Corruption in AFP modernization? ‘Davao Group’ involved, says Trillanes

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Corruption in AFP modernization? ‘Davao Group’ involved, says Trillanes
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV claims that a 'notorious and well-known' retired general acts as the 'conduit' to President Duterte

On the same day of his rumored impending arrest, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he would expose the involvement of the so-called Davao Group in alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program.

Trillanes made the statement in a media interview in the Senate on Friday, September 7. He had been holed there since Tuesday, September 4, after President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No 572 revoking his 2011 amnesty grant and ordering his arrest was published in the Manila Times.

Trillanes volunteered the information while talking about his role, as well as that of party mate Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, another former military officer, as channels for grievances and concerns within the AFP that they had both served.

He said he received complaints from some military officers, whom he did not name, about alleged questionable purchases under the AFP modernization program pushed by the Davao Group with the “blessing” of the President. 

The group first came under the spotlight during congressional inquiries into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment last year. Customs fixer Mark Taguba had claimed that the supposed well-connected group – which earned its name from the members’ home base – facilitated big-time smuggling in the country by bribing Customs personnel.

On Friday, Trillanes bared the new modus of the group, this time allegedly dabbling in the military’s modernization program.  

“May intermediaries na members ng Davao Group na nagmamando kung ano ang mga [gamit] na bibilhin (There are intermediaries who are members of the Davao Group who direct what equipment to purchase),” he said.

“May bibilhin na gamit na hindi naman nila pinapabili, na overpriced pa. Kilala nila kung sino ang mga nanghihimasok, ultimately with the blessings of Duterte himself (Some equipment that were purchased were not requested, and even overpriced. They know who are involved, ultimately with the blessings of Duterte himself),” Trillanes claimed.

The senator said military officers “know who these people are.” He said they were “like lords of war” who buy equipment cheap, then sell them to the government at double the price.

He gave a few hints on the supposed conduit to Duterte.

“Ipepresent ko ‘yan, former general na kasama nila sa grupo nila. Retired general – ito ang conduit, diretso kay Duterte (I will present that, the former general who is part of their group. He’s a retired general – the conduit, direct to Duterte),” the senator said.

Trillanes said the retired general would “bypass senior officials” in the military.

“He’s very notorious and well known,” the senator added in Filipino. 

For all the news reports and media attention that the Davao Group has received, its members still remain officially unknown.

At the Senate hearing into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment in 2017, Trillanes had alleged that former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte and brother-in-law Manases Carpio were involved in smuggling and in the Davao Group.

Both denied the allegation and were later cleared by Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee that led the investigation.

During the hearings, Taguba had also mentioned a certain “Tita Nanie,” someone named “Jack” who is said to be  Paolo Duterte’s “handler,” and Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr who had also denied involvement in the Davao Group.

With Trillanes facing possible arrest over  Proclamatin 572, will he ever have the chance to expose the “retired general” in the group? –

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