Friday, January 28, 2011

Corruption in the Military

(Note: related article in this blog is External threat and the Navy, part 2. See also Bong Mendoza's Corruption in the Philippine military)

Among the big news today is the robbery scandal involving Gen. Angelo Reyes -- former AFP Chief of Staff, former Defense (DND) Secretary, former Interior (DILG) Secretary, former Environment (DENR) Secretary, former Energy (DOE) Secretary, all during the 9 years of former President Gloria Arroyo.

In one news report by the Inquirer, ‘P50-M send-off gift for Reyes’, it was reported that

A retired lieutenant colonel on Thursday made a surprise appearance at the Senate... George Rabusa dropped a bombshell: that Angelo Reyes, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, received a send-off gift (“pabaon”) of “not less than” P50 million when he retired in 2001.

Rabusa said he personally delivered the cash to the “White House,” Reyes’ then quarters at Camp Aguinaldo, that year. He said he was accompanied by the then military comptroller, Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot.

On top of the purported “pabaon,” Reyes, who later became defense secretary, allegedly received a monthly take of at least P5 million—or around P100 million in his 20 months as AFP chief of staff. Rabusa said he and Ligot made the monthly deliveries.

He added that this tradition had also benefited two other AFP chiefs of staff, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu, who allegedly each received around P10 million as a “start-up” fund....

Needless to say, my blood boiled in anger upon reading this large-scale robbery in government. It wasn't long that Gen. Carlos Garcia, in this picture, was somehow taken off the hook where his crime of stealing several hundred million pesos of AFP fund, or better year, tax money, has been downgraded by returning a portion of the huge amount stolen.

I have always suspected that Gen. Angelo Reyes is super-corrupt, given the various cabinet positions that he assumed under a super-corrupt past President, Gloria Arroyo. But government operates in secrecy always, especially involving huge amount of robbery and plunder, so getting evidence is not easy. Insider whistle-blowers provide the short-cut in gathering evidence.

A friend in facebook made this good observation:

when millions of pesos are delivered to you by your subordinates who you put in charge of the army's funds, your acceptance of this funds indicates your participation in a conspiracy. This is true even if you did not order them to give you cash. Unless of course you claim that you did not have the levels of understanding required to become chief of staff of the armed forces.

Amen to that. Someone observed, "The problem also lies in the HUGE "Intelligence" Funds of the different line agencies, including the Office of the President, specially the military, are NOT subject to budget analysis during hearings, may be disbursed in a manner not subject to COA audit."

Yes, the BIG problem is that the BIG government, from the OP to DND, AFP, PNP, DepEd, to the Legislative, is a BIG secretive institution where transparency only appears on paper. Just ask for instance how many foreign travels those officials from different agencies make each year, to where and for what purpose, how much was spent, and you get a black hole answer. The more armed the agency, the more secretive it is, so the volume of corruption and robbery in those agencies should be bigger than the rest.

I also posted this brief note in my facebook status:

F___ the corruption and robbery in the AFP, DND and other government agencies! From Gen. Garcia to Gen. Reyes to many other retired AFP generals, some of those corrupt officials suddenly have amnesia if they received huge money or not. Litse kayong mga kawatan sa gobyerno o!

A friend suggested that the Lord will get those corrupt officials later. The problem is that before the Lord will get them, they already get a portion of my money, money that should have been for my children, not for those thieves.

Someone suggested that the rebels become stronger because of the corruption in the AFP. I don't think there is a need to bring in the (communist and secessionist) rebels in the current discussion because they too, have their own share of corruption, arrogance and robbery. We should not beleve people who use arms and violence to pursue their political agenda, they are all dangerous.

For me, ALL armed groups, from the government forces to rebels to private armies, are big institutions of coercion, violence and terrorism. I would accept that the state should have an armed forces to neutralize criminal armed groups and individuals. But having a huge bureaucracy of armed personnel to possibly reach 200,000, something is wrong there.

Why do those people and politicians need huge armies and guns? There are so many peaceful avenues to debate on issues. Those who have guns just want to make sure that if they lose the public debate, guns will take over. So they always win, like those thieves in government.

With the renewed scandals of robbery at the AFP/DND, those who push for bigger tax money for these institutions can forget expecting public support. I firmly believe that the military institution is deeply corrupt, the number of guns and bombs there are directly related to the level of corruption in that institution.

To help improve, somehow, the image of the AFP and DND, Gen. Reyes and others implicated in the current scandals should go to jail first. Then there will be some public trust that the rule of law, not the rule of men, prevails somehow in the country.

What to do with the seemingly endless corruption in government? Most governments around the world just exist for large-scale racket. Robbery and plunder in many poorer countries are high because the rule of law is a farce. "Stealing is a crime" applies only to ordinary people, but not to those in government or civilians with connections in many government agencies.

What to do? Don't allow governments to expand, don't support their "new programs". Once a bureaucracy is created, its first move is how to expand and entrench itself, it won't ever die. With so many corrupt and inefficienciet agencies and government personnel, can we still single them out? Not possible. If wastes, inefficiencies and corruption are widespread, it will be unfair to single out a few personnel and agencies.

Government should shrink first, so that accountability will be easier to implement. And there is no need to create new bureaucracies either. There are existing laws against corruption and robbery. They only need to be implemented. The law against stealing should apply to all, no exception.

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