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Court of Appeals concludes hearing on Gadian's petition for protection

- Edu Punay -

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has concluded its hearing on the petition for protection of Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, the Navy officer who exposed alleged anomalies in the handling of the P46-million Armed Forces fund for the RP-US Balikatan exercises in 2007.

The military, on the other hand, renewed its call for Gadian to formalize her complaint and present evidence on the alleged fund misuse.

The CA did not require the whistleblower to take the witness stand to prove threats against her life supposedly from some military officials she had implicated in her exposé.

The CA ninth division moved yesterday to submit for resolution the pleading for issuance of protection order for Gadian, relying only on the affidavit she submitted and the corresponding answer of the respondents.

After the hearing, division chair and Associate Justice Rebecca de Guia-Salvador said a ruling would be issued in 10 days.

Gadian maintained her allegation that former and current officials she had implicated in her exposé have the capability to threaten her life.

“They already destroyed my life and even of my two kids who were already displaced here, and then they would claim that I don’t have any threat?” she lamented.

In her affidavit submitted to the CA, Gadian said she has documentary evidence to prove her allegations but refused to give a copy of it because according to her lawyer it might violate the confidentiality agreement related to her petition for a writ of amparo before the CA.

Gadian was assigned as deputy chief of Civil Military Operations (CMO) during the Balikatan joint military exercises in Western Mindanao from 2002 to 2007.

She has accused retired Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, former chief of Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command, of receiving P818,500 and P100,000 from the Balikatan funds.

She alleged that aside from Cedo, two other military officers were also involved in the supposed anomaly.

Of the P4 million intended for Balikatan’s civil military operations, only P2.3 million was released, she added.

Gadian said the lead planner for the CMO was able to withdraw P2.7 million. She refused to name the CMO lead planner but identified the military officer in the affidavit she is set to file in court.

Cedo has since denied Gadian’s allegations.

Gadian was ordered arrested for desertion and insubordination after she volunteered to provide the Senate with documents to support her claim against Cedo.

The CA, upon order of the Supreme Court, was tasked to determine if there is basis in Gadian’s allegations and if threats against her life are real in order to decide whether or not there is a need to make permanent the writ of amparo issued by the SC.

Aside from Cedo, also named respondents in the petition are Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado, Navy flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, Western Mindanao Command chief of staff Col. Joel Ibanez, management and financial officer Lt. Col. Antonio Dacanay.

Put up or shut up

However, navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement that instead of going to other avenues to air her grievances, Gadian should file the formal complaint and substantiate this with evidence to prove her allegations.

“This is a clear manifestation of forum shopping. We can’t help but wonder why she refuses to present the same before a three-man committee created by (Defense) Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. precisely to look into her allegations,” he said.

Arevalo said that if indeed the embattled junior officer is in quest for the truth, she should subject herself before the investigating panel of the Department of National Defense, not as an accused but as a resource person.

“We pray that Lt. Gadian may see the light and avail of the proper forum. She should not court public sympathy if only for the sake of her fellow soldiers who fought and died in the name of the noble profession of arms,” he said.

Rampant corruption

But a retired high-ranking official who was once involved in the Balikatan project said the corruption could have allegedly occurred even much earlier than what has been exposed by Gadian.

The source, who once worked with the CMO then under the Southern Command, said the fund mess could have even started as early as 2003, when the humanitarian aid mission was introduced after the Balikatan 02-1.

The Southern Command is the largest military unit outside Manila.

“What was exposed by Gadian was just a tip of the iceberg because the funds were really diverted by some senior officials,” the retired official said.

The same source, however, requested anonymity because of apprehension of reprisal from the officials involved. – With James Mananghaya, Roel Pareño

ANTONIO DACANAY

ARMED FORCES

ARMED FORCES WESTERN MINDANAO COMMAND

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE REBECCA

BALIKATAN

CEDO

CIVIL MILITARY OPERATIONS

COURT OF APPEALS

GADIAN

MILITARY

SOUTHERN COMMAND

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