From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 7): Whatever happened to…?: Exposé on AFP’s ‘rampant irregularities’
The recommendation to file plunder charges against several former military
officers for the misuse of P2.3 billion in public funds is still pending in the
Office of the Ombudsman, which has jurisdiction over the prosecution of graft
and plunder cases in the Sandiganbayan.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel made the recommendation in January 2012,
based on the complaint filed by Lt. Col. George Rabusa, a former military budget
officer who hogged the headlines in 2011 for his revelations on the military
practice of giving retiring senior officers with multimillion-peso “pabaon”
In a resolution, the panel recommended plunder charges against retired Armed
Forces Chiefs of Staff Generals Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu, and former
AFP comptrollers Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot for
allegedly pilfering military funds.
Included in the charges were retired Maj. Gen. Hilario Atendido, retired
Colonels Cirilo Donato and Roy Devesa, retired Lt. Col. Ernesto Paranis, J-6
accounting division chief Generoso del Castillo and former state auditor Divina
‘Semblance of truth’
Rabusa’s “grandiose illustration of the ‘rampant irregularities in the AFP
relative to the malversation, misuse and misappropriation of its funds appears
to have a semblance of truth,” the DOJ panel said.
In his complaint filed in the DOJ in April 2011, Rabusa cited personal
knowledge of irregularities by members of the so-called “comptrollership mafia.”
He served as budget officer of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (ODCS)
for Intelligence or J2 from 1994 to 1998, and of the ODCS for Comptrollership or
J6 from 2000 to 2002.
Rabusa said key AFP officials colluded to carry out a scheme of converting
commercial vouchers into cash for unofficial expenditures; incorporating
discretionary funds into the military budget; and converting military funds
through procurement offices.
Rabusa’s disclosure stemmed from his testimony in a January 2011 Senate blue
ribbon inquiry into the controversial plea bargain deal between special
prosecutors and ex-comptroller Garcia for the latter’s plunder case.
In the inquiry, Rabusa said that he had pocketed money and that he had helped
his former boss, Garcia, “convert” almost P1 billion from 2001 to 2002 for
distribution to ranking officers and other recipients outside the AFP.
Rabusa also claimed that when Gen. Angelo Reyes retired as AFP chief of staff
in 2001, he received a total of P150 million in military funds.
Rabusa also claimed that by the time Villanueva and Cimatu retired the two
took home a total of P227.4 million and P110 million, respectively. Former AFP
Chief of Staff Gen. Efren Abu also benefited from spurious transactions,
according to Rabusa.
Reyes denied the allegations against him and filed graft charges against
Rabusa in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Appearing before the Senate inquiry, Cimatu denied Rabusa’s claims, saying
his only pabaon were the 40 medals and citations he received in his
37-year military career.
In a statement, Villanueva described Rabusa’s allegations as “mind-boggling,”
adding that he only got a “modest retirement pay” when he stepped down from
At the height of the controversy, Reyes committed suicide on Feb. 8, 2011.
Ligots’ unexplained assets
In a succeeding hearing, Rabusa said senior officers had a slush fund of P20
million for their personal and operational use. The fund was replenished by
allocations skimmed off the salaries and operational expenses of military units.
Also brought up in the inquiry were the unexplained assets of Ligot and his
wife, Erlinda, in the country and in the United States.
The Senate hearings prompted the Bureau of Internal Revenue to file
multimillion-peso tax evasion complaints against Garcia and Ligot, and their
wives, in March 2011.
For his complaint, Rabusa named 22 respondents and presented to the DOJ over
20 folders containing pieces of evidence, such as receipts, checks and various
documents to prove how military funds were misused. He described his case as
But for lack of sufficient evidence, the DOJ cleared 11 of the respondents:
Abu, retired Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, retired Major Generals Epineto
Logico and Ernesto Boac, Navy Capt. Kenneth Paglinawan, Col. Gilbert Gapay and
Maj. Emerson Angulo.
Also absolved were Col. Robert Arevalo and former state auditors Arturo
Besana, Crisanto Gabriel and Manuel Warren.
Challenging the panel’s recommendations, Cimatu’s camp said that Rabusa’s
complaint was based mainly on spurious documents and that it was his cohorts and
him who misused military funds.
Following his exoneration, Besana filed a plunder complaint against Rabusa in
the Office of the Ombudsman, citing Rabusa’s own admission that he committed
various offenses involving “billions of pesos.”