Stop the Plunder! Revamp the AFP Now!
THE FUNDAMENTAL role and character of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been brought
into question by the latest revelations of the colossal scale of corruption, nay, plunder of state and
people’s resources by the general command of the AFP.
Lt. Col. George Rabusa, the former Philippine military budget officer, has revealed a fraction of
this plunder, as well as one of the mechanisms by which it takes place: the payola (slush) fund,
known as the provisions for command-directed activities (PCDA), which has a fund of around
half-a-billion pesos yearly. Through this PCDA fund, General Angelo Reyes helped himself to
50 million pesos when he retired in March 2001, after just 20 months in office. Generals Villanueva
and Cimatu were given a 10 million pesos start-up fund each. All three generals also received a
P5 million monthly allowance from the fund during their term in office. Some 160 million pesos
"pabaon" (send-off money) was given to General Villanueva when he retired in May 2002.
In total, Rabusa had converted into dollars and handed out to the generals almost one billion pesos
from the payola fund.
Perhaps even more alarming are the revelations of former Commission on Audit officer
Heidi Mendoza. Mendoza states that an even larger amount of millions of dollars of overseas
funding from international agencies, such as the United Nations, slated for Philippine troops on
peacekeeping missions overseas, have been siphoned off into dubious accounts in the Philippines.
This includes a single check for $5 million, which was “picked up” in the US by an “unidentified
AFP officer”. Former comptroller General Carlos Garcia, who has been pinpointed by Mendoza,
was the main operator who was fronting for several top generals, and not only Angelo Reyes.
High ranking officials of the AFP are now claiming that the plunder was stopped through the
abolishment of the PCDA in 2005. But this sounds more like damage control on the part of the
serving AFP top brass, to contain the situation from further damaging and undermining the institution.
However, these plunder charges prove that there is something fundamentally flawed about the AFP
as currently constituted. The AFP, far from being the protector of the people seems to be the very
anti-thesis of this, plundering the resources that belong to the ordinary soldiers and the masa.
Ordinary rank-and-file soldiers put their lives on the line every day and their families scrimp on
meagre wages and are deprived of much needed benefits, while the top brass, their wives and
children, wallow in plundered wealth.
We think that a genuine government of the people will act and take some immediate measures
to revamp and fundamentally transform the AFP. These include the following actions:
-- Press for the resignation of the top generals.
-- Replace them with a younger generation of junior officers,
with the commitment and will to serve the people.
-- Abolish not only the slush funds, but all the discretionary funds
of the generals, and channel the funds to the rank-and-file
soldiers’ welfare and benefits, i.e. medical benefits, housing
and salary increases.
-- Review the defense budget with the aim of re-channelling the savings
towards people’s welfare expenditure, such as education and health.
-- Investigate the financial dealings of the top generals, with the view
to charging them with corruption and plunder of the people’s resources.
These are the most immediate and practical measures that are necessary to revamp the AFP and
transform it into a genuine protector of the people’s interests.
February 2, 2011