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Non-uniformed civil servants should handle AFP funds – Romulo

Press Release
February 2, 2011

QUEZON CITY  –  Non-uniformed career civil servants should directly supervise the quality of financial reporting and accounting in the Armed Forces, House Deputy Majority Leader and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said Wednesday.

"This is one way to curb the rampant misuse of military funds that is depriving our foot soldiers and their ground officers the full support that they need in the field," Romulo said.

In the military, Romulo noted that soldiers are strictly taught to obey and comply first and ask questions later, or not ask questions at all.

"Under the circumstances, with uniformed personnel looking after military funds, they are under the total control of their superior officers," Romulo pointed out.

He said lower-ranking officers who defy their superiors would be extremely vulnerable to trumped-up court martial proceedings, or to summary field reassignments.

Romulo said the proposal to allow non-uniformed civil servants to oversee military funds was first advanced by former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and retired Gen. Narciso Abaya in February last year.

"There is wisdom is General Abaya's proposal. Those handling the funds should not be directly under the military's chain of command, which is absolute," Romulo said.

"This way, they will not be under any undue pressure to illegally release or divert funds, or make unwarranted purchases," he said.

Romulo made the statement amid reports of hundreds of millions of pesos in "missing" military funds.

Former military budget officer and retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa earlier also claimed that newly promoted as well as retiring chiefs of staff have been illicitly getting multimillion-peso cash gifts out of a slush fund.

"The more relevant question now is whether the practice of giving welcome and send-off cash gifts persists to this day," Romulo said.

He added: "Who was the last newly designated chief of staff to receive a welcome cash gift? And who was the last retiring chief of staff to receive a golden parachute?"

"This is totally unacceptable – that our troops in the front have to endure the lack of weapons, basic protection gear and even food provisions, on account of the unchecked misappropriation of military funds," Romulo said.

In pushing for the enlistment of non-uniformed personnel to run the military's accounting, disbursement and purchasing processes, Abaya had said that the culture of confidentiality and an "old boys network" were to blame for the financial irregularities in the Armed Forces.

Abaya had also lamented that "in the military service, graft and corruption take its toll on the lives of soldiers and on the accomplishments of the mission."