Sunday, January 30, 2011

AFP ‘pabaon’ system had presidents’ nod - Biazon

MANILA, Philippines - Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon said Sunday that the corruption in the military could not have happened without the go-signal of presidents in power.
He told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) that it is important to determine when the so-called "pabaon" system started and who among the chiefs of staff benefitted from it.
“There were 4 AFP chiefs of staff under Cory, 3 I think in Ramos’ time, then Erap had 2, then Arroyo had 11, so there are 21 people,” he said.
On Thursday, former military budget officer Lieutenant Colonel George Rabusa appeared during a Senate hearing on the plea bargain deal that former military comptroller Carlos Garcia entered into with the Office of the Ombudsman.
Rabusa said his former boss, Angelo Reyes, received P50 million in “pabaon” (send-off money) when he retired from military service in 2002.
Biazon, meanwhile, said he did not receive send-off money when he retired from the AFP.
“Had I that kind of money in the magnitude as revealed by Rabusa, I would not need to borrow P500,000 to construct a house,” he said.
Rabusa had said that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was aware of the fund scheme and that he would reveal the details at the Senate.
Arroyo, now Pampanga second district representative in Congress, has yet to issue a reaction to this allegation.
The AFP has vowed full cooperation in the ongoing Senate investigation on the alleged corruption within the military.
The AFP, however, claimed that such illicit practices, including giving hefty cash gifts to retiring military chiefs, are “a thing of the past.”
AFP spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta said  the controversy will not shake the AFP’s foundations.  
Mabanta and Rabusa belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1981.  He said he is "quite close" with Rabusa, who even served as the class' president one time. 
He said PMA class '81 is "behind George Rabusa in terms of commitment in saying what we want but others may not be all out for what he stands for…We can say that we admire for standing for what he believes in."
"George Rabusa has passed through all command positions but his longest stint is with the comptroller office. With that, he may know what he is saying," he added. – with a report from ANC

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