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'Pabaon' probe should extend to all former Chiefs of Staff - Chiz

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The Senate blue ribbon committee should extend its current investigation to all former chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to determine if the “pabaon” practice has been going on for a long time, Senator Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

This after a retired lieutenant revealed in Thursday's Senate hearing that former AFP chief of staff Angelo Reyes received a P50-million “sendoff” gift, or what’s commonly known in the military circle as  “pabaon”. On top of that, Reyes was said to have received a monthly take of at least P5 million during his 20-month stint as chief of staff.

Retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa had admitted into delivering the money amounting to P50 million to Reyes’ quarters in Camp Aguinaldo in 2001, the year when the latter retired from his post. Rabusa said he brought the money to Reyes together with then military comptroller, Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot.

“I urge the blue ribbon committee to seriously look into this matter. It should include former chiefs of the AFP because if this is really an ongoing tradition, it must be nipped in the bud,” Escudero said.

“It is an outright mockery of justice that while soldiers who really fight hard die in the field, their officials swim in cash while cooling their heels inside their air-conditioned offices,” he added.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate defense and security committee, also wanted to probe the other officers involved in slashing funds in order to come up with a slush fund for distribution to ranking officials and outside recipients.

Rabusa said almost a billion was pooled from the “provisions for command directed activities” (PCDA) fund and “savings” from the personnel services budget of the military.

“These former officers have a lot to answer for because if what Col. Rabusa is saying is true, that is not only graft and corruption that is definitely technical malversation,” the senator pointed out.

The senator said the testimony of the colonel should be reduced to an affidavit or if his testimony was made under oath, it should immediately be used to file a plunder complaint against Reyes.

“The ‘I cannot remember’ answer of Secretary Reyes was not an outright denial in spite of the categorical accusation. If it were totally untrue, he’d be defending himself to his teeth,” he said.

According to Escudero, it was appalling to learn that the excesses of these military officials account for the decrepit supplies of the soldiers who are really in the line of fire and are actually fighting.

“Now we don’t have to wonder why we have defective arms in the military, why our soldiers are ill- equipped and why they are poorly-rationed in the field: their officials have busied themselves fully arming their personal bank accounts,” Escudero said.




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