Philippines Military Billions Fund Mess, George Rabusa, AFP, Military

Former Armed Forces budget officer George Rabusa INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

On Jan. 27, 2011, retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa disclosed a multimillion fund scam in the military while testifying in the Senate blue ribbon committee's inquiry into the plea bargain between state prosecutors and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Rabusa, who served as budget chief of the Office of the Armed Forces' Deputy Chief of Staff for Comptrollership from November 1999 until 2002, revealed how it had become a tradition for senior military officers to receive a pabaon (sendoff) in tens of millions of pesos.

Rabusa said that when Angelo Reyes retired as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2001, he received a total of P150 million from the AFP funds—broken down into a pabaon of "not less than" P50 million on his retirement, and the P5 million he received each month during his 20 months as the AFP chief of staff.

The whistle-blower also said that spurious transactions benefited former AFP Chief of Staff Efren Abu, and allowed former AFP Chiefs of Staff Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu to take home a total of P227.4 million and P110 million, respectively, by the time they retired.

In his testimony, Rabusa admitted that he himself had pocketed money from military funds and that he helped his boss, Garcia, "convert" almost P1 billion from 2001 to 2002 for distribution to ranking officers and other recipients outside the AFP.

Rabusa said the money came mainly from the annual military slush fund of P480 million, known as the provisions for command-directed activities, and allocations from the personnel services budget of the military.

Reyes denied the allegations against him and filed graft charges against Rabusa in the Office of the Ombudsman. Villanueva and Cimatu also vehemently denied the allegations.

Beset by controversy, Reyes committed suicide on February 8.

Slush fund

In a succeeding hearing, Rabusa said the AFP chiefs of staff as well as other officers also 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 were the unexplained assets of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, in the country and in the United States.

The Senate hearings prompted the Bureau of Internal Revenue to file in the Department of Justice (DOJ) multimillion-peso tax evasion complaints against Garcia and Ligot, and their wives, in March.

Plunder complaints

In April, Rabusa filed plunder complaints against various military officials for their alleged involvement in the military fund scam. The main respondents were Abu, Villanueva and Cimatu, Ligot and Garcia.

Along with his complaint, Rabusa presented to the DOJ over 20 folders containing pieces of evidence, such as receipts, checks and other documents, to prove, he said, how money was misused during the tenures of Abu, Villanueva and Cimatu. Inquirer Research

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