Solons ask congress to probe possible malversation of P179.4B DND, AFP budget for personal services

LAWMAKERS urged the House  Committee on Good Government conduct an urgent inquiry on the possible malversation of P179.4 Billion in the budget for personal services of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 2002 to 2010.

House Resolution No. 977 introduced by  Representatives Neri Colmenares, Antonio Tino and Raymond Palatino is aimed to uncover possible “conversion” and hold accountable those officials involved in the anomaly and to institute corrective measures to protect public funds.

The lawmakers sought the investigation to look into discrepancies between the Budget for Personal Services (PS) of  the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (DND-AFP) and the actual DND-AFP Staffing Summary contained in the budget submitted by then Pres. Gloria Arroyo to Congress during the period of 2002 to 2010;

During this period the budget for salaries as PS in the General Appropriations Act is always larger than the Staffing  Summary of the DND-AFP; and in 2002, for example, the total PS budget of the DND-AFP in the National Expenditures Program (NEP) submitted by the Office of the President is P50.355 Billion while the total amount actually needed for personnel under their Staffing Summary is only P24 billion resulting in a discrepancy of more than P26 billion.

“The total discrepancy between the PS Budget and the PS under the Staffing Summary during 2002 to 2010 amounts to P 179,358,942,000” Colmenares said.

They disclosed that “conversion” was divulged by the late Capt. Rene Jarque in 2003 to be practised in the AFP as a means to cover the malversation of funds. He described that the Army’s allocation for office supplies is the “most convenient item for conversion” and cited that a billion pesos worth of office supplies can easily be converted by generals into a “house, car or whatever,” by simply asking a supplier to provide them the necessary supporting documents. He also explained that suppliers also benefit from the conversion because 10 to 12 percent of the “converted” amount, which they term as “cost of money,” goes to them, the remaining 13 to 15 percent will be divided among those who will be involved in processing the documents and the 75 percent goes to the generals. Jarque, who admitted he once was a part of the anomalous transaction in the AFP, said that in some instances, the supplies are converted into medicines because the military hospitals do not have medicines for the field soldiers. For officers who are morally upright, he said, the medicines will reach their men, but other officers also sell them;

Col. George Rabusa’s  testimony   that only 80% of PS of the AFP goes to soldier’s pay and the rest is converted to cash, points not only to problems in the budgetting process but more to the grave corruption that occured in the past and is possibly continuing up till now, they said.

“Investigating these discrepancies and where these funds were spent is important in  legislating laws to check misuse of funds allocated by Congress to the DND-AFP through the GAA and may be useful in Congressional deliberation of future budgetary submissions,” they said.-D’Jay Lazaro

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