Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Black Eyes For The AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, established by virtue of Commonwealth Act No.1 otherwise known as the National Defense Act of December 21, 1935, stands proud as the Philippine’s guardian of democracy. It strives to maintain the freedom the country is currently enjoying and nurtures an environment where its people's well being are looked upon by the government. As its primary concern, the AFP has continued to work for freedom and unity - freedom from the threats that stirred division and chaos in the country including the communists, the secessionists and other threats.

The military ably addresses its primordial mandate as protector of the people and the state; and continues to contribute in nation-building particularly in infrastructure development, crisis management, social and humanitarian services and environmental protection.

The AFP works hand in hand with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies in all efforts to put an end to crimes and other nefarious activities.

The Filipino people now look forward to an Armed Forces that is fully mission-effective, right sized, credibly equipped, versatile and highly responsive to technological, doctrinal and sociological change. With its sincere commitment, its men and women are now ready to face and confront the numerous challenges ahead with renewed vigor, courage and aggressiveness.

From the jungles confronting insurgency, to the rural and urban centers helping people during disaster and calamities and to as far as East Timor to help our brothers in the international community, the Filipino soldiers remain vigilant and steadfast in its role as defender of freedom and democracy.

This is the Armed Forces of the Philippines, proud and ready to face the coming millennium.

Or so they say........

Not too long ago, a group of idealist officers from the AFP stormed the Oakwood Hotel in Makati City and declared they are no longer following the chain of command of the AFP. Thus, the country experienced yet another coup'd etat after the numerous ones staged by the renegade group of Col. Gregorio Honasan (who, incidentally became a Senator) and Col. Billy Bibbit.

The Reform the Army Movement of then Col. Gringo staged nine attempts to overthrow the government, however, then Pres. Corazon Aquino still managed to successfully finish her term. Then came a president from within the ranks of the AFP, Pres. Fidel Ramos was spared of any coup attempts. A former AFP Chief of Staff, Ka Eddie used his skills well in defending his post as the AFP Commander-in-Chief.

Gringo has long been gone from the AFP Corps but still the idealism he imparted to the younger generation of officers were instilled, so, when the Oakwood mutiny broke out, news has it that these young officers were under orders from the Guardian Brotherhood founded and organized by no less than Sen. Honasan.

Gringo is in hiding up to now, and the rebellious soldiers are all being court-martialed. What a black eye!

How much is the salary of a major general in the AFP? P35,000? P40,000? Okay, let's peg it at P50,000. How can a major general earning P50,000 a month own nine luxurious cars, an account in a US bank worth P43.9 million, an investment savings of P5.8 million in the AFPSLAI, and real properties in the US worth no less than $1.4 million? How was this possible?

Embattled Army Gen. Carlos Garcia has been charged with four counts of perjury before the Sandiganbayan lately. Ombudsman top honcho, Simeon Marcelo informed that Garcia was earlier suspended for six months without pay. Because, he didn't declare in his yearly Statement of Assets and Liabilities the vehicles and properties he had acquired when he was the AFP's deputy chief for comptrollership.

Garcia was accused of also failing to declare in his annual SAL the properties in Ohio and New York, USA. He failed to declare unspecified investments in military savings and loans cooperatives, and some US$193,400 (P10.8 million) in cash carried by him and members of his family to the US.

The notorious general was likewise accused of making an undervalued assessments of nine vehicles registered under his name and those of his family. General Garcia, on records, owns a 1993 Toyota Previa worth P521,797, a 1997 Honda Civic worth P564,000, and a 1997 Mitsubishi L-300 van worth P424,583.

He also failed to declare a P5.8 million in investments in the AFP's Savings and Loan Association Inc. He is currently being investigated for the $785,630 (P43.9 million) he and his family had allegedly been seeking to the US between November 1998 up to June 2004.

Garcia is also believed to own real estate properties in the US amounting to $1.4 million (7.8 million), as well as two trucks, a 2003 Honda CRV, a 1998 Toyota Hilux, 2001 Toyota Rav 4, and a 1993 Toyota.

Ombudsman prosecutors are also evaluating strong evidence toward the possible filing of plunder charges against him. Plunder or corruption involving more than $1 million is punishable by death.

Records culled from the AFP shows that there are 115,000-strong military force, with an annual budget of about P30-billion, or almost half of the allocated budget that goes to the AFP.

But despite all trials, the beleaguered General who was in full military uniform appeared to be unperturbed. Kapal mo naman!

Still on Garcia, along with several yet unnamed officers, reportedly pocketed AFP funds at the expense of ordinary soldiers in the field, including funds from the United Nations and the US.

From the government's sleuthing, investigators have also stumbled upon huge various foreign currency accounts of Garcia, wife and family.

In the latest development: "The office of the Ombudsman... has determined that a prima facie case exists against respondent Gen. Carlos Garcia and the other respondents who hold such properties.. as he acquired, during his incumbency as a soldier and public officer, huge amounts of money and properties manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officers and his lawful income."

Hence, the Ombudsman asked the Sandiganbayan to forfeit Garcia's assets amounting to P143,052.29 based on an exchanged rate of P56.30 to the dollar.

As of the moment, Garcia is being tried by a general court-martial for allegedly violating the Articles of War.

The AFP is reeling from serious charges of corruption - and worse, from among its top brass! What a black eye!

I'm no TV addict, but last Saturday I chanced upon Mike Enriquez's program in GMA 7, Imbestigador and was surprised to see two males engaging in sexual act. I glued myself in front of the TV to know more about the scandalous expose of Mr. Enriquez.

I was even more surprised when I learned that one of the men was identified as Army Major Ferdinand Ramos, Civil Military Operations commander of the Army’s Light Armor Brigade based in Camp O'Donnel in Capas, Tarlac. Maj. Ramos is now being detained and is the subject of investigation for allegedly forcing a military trainee to perform oral sex on him.

Furthermore, he has been restricted to quarters. Ramos is detailed at an army training facility in the northern Philippines. And as of the moment, the AFP is calling on all those who had been victimized by this army officer to come out in the open so that the case against this major would have more merit.

Isn't the video footage meritorious enough? All I can say is, what a black eye!

How much is $0.50 after conversion to the Philippine peso?

For a mere US$0.50, the valedictorian of the prestigious Philippine Military Academy Class 2004, who was sent to the US for schooling as a reward for topping his class, was arrested and sent back to the country.

Army 2Lt. Rolly Joaquin, a student of the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, was arrested for alleged theft by deception by US authorities after he was caught supposedly removing the 50-cent discount tag from a sale item and attaching it to a nonsale item that he purchased sometime in October. Unbeknown to Joaquin he, along with the other customers of the store, were being monitored by the store's closed-circuit camera.

The incident was reported by the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines to the Army on October 26.

Two days later, Joaquin arrived from the US and was turned over to the Army’s Headquarters Support Group for custody.

Army officials said he is now restricted to quarters and is undergoing investigation. If prima facie evidence is established, he will be subjected to court-martial proceedings just like Garcia for violation of Article of War 96 or conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman, and Article of War 97 or conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

"Independent of the court-martial proceedings, the subject officer can also be administratively charged under the Armed Forces’ Efficiency and Separation Board," said Maj. Vicente Bartolome Bacarro, chief of the Army public information office.

A top PMA graduate caught stealing in a foreign land, to think that the helpless Filipino taxpayers were the one who supported his studies in hope of producing a top caliber officer in the AFP, what a black eye!

"The Army leadership would like to take this opportunity to assure the public that these matters will be addressed accordingly and that appropriate punishment shall be meted out commensurate to the offense committed," Bacarro further stressed.

"These unfortunate incidents involving Army officers are not representative of the entire Philippine Army as an organization, it is not representative of the more than 70,000 Army personnel.

These are isolated incidents involving individual acts," Bacarro said.

After all these black eyes, what's next for the AFP? Just askin, folks! :-)


Blogger Kurt Maddox said...

I enjoyed your blog :-)

November 25, 2004 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Short Talk said...


now i know that somebody's visiting my blog site :-)

November 25, 2004 at 3:36 PM  

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