Military fund diversions considered ‘regular’ transactions

SOME Philippine military funds were diverted for other purposes because these transactions were reportedly presumed to be “regular” and part of standard operating procedure.

As a result, former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget officer George Rabusa — now a witness in a Senate corruption hearing — was given room to divert discretionary funds.

At a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing Thursday, former AFP chief of staff Diomedio Villanueva Jr. said he did not know where Rabusa got money to rent a safe house in upscale Acropolis subdivision in Quezon City, adding it was not a concern.

“It’s the job of J6 [Office of the AFP Comptroller] to look for a source of funds,” he explained.

Discretionary funds came from money hidden as Intelligence Service of the AFP (Isafp) allotments. Spending on intelligence is not subject to audit.

He said his former boss, dismissed AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia, told him to look for a house near Camp Aguinaldo where Villanueva could hold meetings in private.

Villanueva said he knew rent for the house, used for meeting with officials from Mindanao, was paid for with government funds.

“I presumed regularity, your honor. I thought they were from intelligence, confidential funds,” he said.

He added that the P100,000 to P120,000 that Rabusa said was paid each month was too large.

“The houses in Acropolis are small. You will see, [rent] cannot reach that much,” he said.

Villanueva also disputed Rabusa’s statement that the house was rented as soon as he became AFP chief.

Col. Cirilo Donato, a former Isafp comptroller who worked under Rabusa as assistant budget officer, said he also received cash allowances worth anywhere from P2,000 to P20,000 a month for his personal use.

Donato also received a Honda Civic from Rabusa but still gave the latter “the benefit of the doubt.”

However, Rabusa said the amount that Donato received was actually larger, around P100,000 a month for a 14-month period of working together.

He added the Honda Civic, worth around P800,000, was bought with AFP funds.

Asked by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada whether he never wondered where the money came from, Donato said asking questions is not part of military culture.

He later agreed that if the money came from the AFP, then, “yes, it was corruption.”

Donato said Rabusa also gave him P300,000 to P500,000 at a time for use by the comptroller’s office. The money went into office supplies and “other needs,” he said.

Rabusa explained the money was actually just for the Budget Division of J6, not the whole office.

He added officers “from major down” were sometimes given allowances when they went abroad to train or for transportation to go back to units in the field.

He added Donato came to him to replenish the money “almost every month.”

Donato said he had documents that officers sign for money that they received.

But Lt.Col. Antonio Lim, who replaced him as Rabusa’s assistant and also a Senate witness, said no such documents were turned over to him.

 

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One Response

  1. Thank you for posting this, it was quite helpful and told a lot

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