Solon urges Arroyo to explain P.5 B MNLF, CPLA funds

BAYAN MUNA Party List Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares on Sunday revealed that “the huge and unbelievable amount of funds budgeted by the Arroyo administration for rebel returnees may have been one of the sources of the pabaons and pasalubongs of top AFP officials”.

The on-going study on the DND-AFP budget showed that one of the discrepancies between the staffing summary salary and the personal services budget submitted by Pres. Gloria Arroyo in 2002 and 2003 involves the salaries of supposed rebel returnees from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA),Colmenares said.

“In the 2002 budget (page 1215 GAA), Pres. Arroyo’s budget asked for P437.578 million for the basic salary of 2,870 MNLF integrees under the “MNLF Integration Program” – an unbelievable P12,000.00 basic monthly salary for each MNLF integree in 2002” said Rep. Colmenares.

“This was repeated in 2003 by Pres. Arroyo but in a larger scale. While the DND-AFP Staffing Summary she submitted in the 2003 budget (page 1289 GAA) stated that the total amount of salaries required for 500 MNLF integrees is P44.564 million, she actually asked for P110.683 million for the same MNLF integree program in the 2003 budget (page 402 GAA). This not only means that there is a discrepancy of P66.119 million which cannot be explained as mere “additional allowances and benefits” because this was more than double the basic salary, but also because, each of the 500 MNLF integrees was receiving a monthly salary of P 18,447.00 as early as 2003 when many teachers and government employees, soldiers included, were receiving less than P10,000.00” added Colmenares. “I still maintain that the discrepancy between the salaries in the staffing summary and the bloated personal service budget cannot be merely explained as allowances and additional benefits”.

In the 2003 budget (Staffing Summary page 1289 of the GAA), Pres. Arroyo asked for P42.451 million for only 264 CPLA integrees– again, an unbelievable P 13,400.00 basic monthly salary for each CPLA integree.” said Colmenares. “But In the same budget (page 1286 GAA), Pres. Arroyo was giving members of the Philippine Army only P7,494.00 per month as basic salary. Pres. Arroyo was giving rebel returnees substantially double the salaries of her soldiers.

During the last Senate hearing on AFP corruption, the DND-AFP confirmed that they have no records of how the MNLF integration program was disbursed. “Is it possible for Pres. Arroyo to ask for a total of P 548.261million or half a billion pesos and yet remain unaware of these funds? The total MNLF funds that Pres. Arroyo has to account for, as the commander in chief and the president who submitted the budget in 2002 and 2003, is at least P 548.261.00,” he said.

She must be held to account not only for giving P18,000 pesos per month salaries to MNLF integrees while her soldiers are given only half of that, but also to explain where these funds were spent.” Colmenares added. “She cannot keep silent while her generals and the chiefs of staff she appointed are being roasted in the Senate for corruption,” ended Colmenares.

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