Monday, January 31, 2011

Generals' wives also benefited from AFP corruption — senator

The wives of former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes and former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot also benefited from corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Sen. Jinggoy Estrada alleged on Monday.

Estrada said former military budget officer Lt. Col. Rabusa, who bared the alleged corruption in the AFP before a Senate investigation last week, will expound on this at the next hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

“I think Col. Rabusa will expose this in the next hearing," Estrada told reporters in an interview.

He said based on the evidence showed to him by Rabusa, Reyes’ wife Teresita received money from him whenever she went on trips with Ligot’s wife Erlinda or with the wives of other generals.

Estrada explained that Mrs. Reyes received P50,000 as allowance for her local trips. He could not specify, however, how much she received for her overseas trips. He said Mrs. Reyes and Mrs. Ligot went on over 40 trips while their husbands were with the AFP. 

Malversation of public funds

Reyes’ lawyer, Bonifacio Alentajan, denied the accusation as one of Rabusa’s many claims. The former budget officer had earlier said Reyes received P50 million in “pabaon" (send-off money) when he retired as AFP chief of staff in 2001.

Sabi lang ni Rabusa yan (That’s just Rabusa’s claim)," Alentajan told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

He, however, said that if it is true that Rabusa was releasing allowances to the wives of AFP officials, then he should be punished for doing so.

Pera ng gobyerno yan, bakit niya nilustay yan? Dapat ikulong siya, malversation of public funds yan (That’s government money. Why did he spend that. He should be jailed; that is malversation of public funds)," he said.

Reyes earlier in the day filed complaints against Rabusa and Estrada with the Office of the Ombudsman for linking him to the alleged corruption in the military. 

But Estrada said Rabusa has a boxful of documentary evidence that can prove his claims.


Estrada said Reyes and his lawyer have the right to file charges against him but that he also has the right to make such allegations. 

“They are trying to retaliate because of what happened during the hearing [but] I also have the right as your senator to expose the anomalies and the corruption which is happening within the military; that is my duty as your duly elected senator," he said.

The senator also noted that he is covered by parliamentary immunity, so he cannot be sanctioned for revealing anything about Reyes. “Whatever I say in the plenary or committee hearings, I think I am covered by parliamentary immunity."

He also denied having personal interest in pinning Reyes to corruption. “I do not have anything against Sec. Reyes or any other general for that matter. The issue here is not personal vendetta. The issue here is corruption," he said.

Reyes, as AFP chief, was instrumental in the ouster of Estrada’s father, Joseph Estrada, from the presidency in 2001. The elder Estrada was then accused of corruption.

He said it was Rabusa’s lawyer, who was also his counsel when he was charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan, who approached him about the revelations of the former AFP budget officer. 


Rabusa, for his part, was unfazed by Reyes' complaint as well as some death threats he said he started receiving a day after exposing the alleged corruption in the military.

"No, I don't care about it," he said of Reyes' complaint in an interview aired Monday night over GMA News' "24 Oras." 

When asked if he is receiving death threats, he said: "Meron. Kinabukasan pa lang(There are and they came the day after I appeared in the Senate)." - KBK, GMANews.TV

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