Review plea bargaining agreement with Garcia - Enrile
- Christina Mendez () - February 3, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile urged yesterday the Office of the Ombudsman to consider the recent revelations of former state auditor Heidi Mendoza about the anomalies she uncovered while auditing the books of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“If I were the Ombudsman, with that revelation, I will have to re-think the plea bargaining agreement because the statement of that woman is a telling indictment of the entire system. We have to heed the facts narrated by Ms. Mendoza,” Enrile said, referring to her testimony during an inquiry at the House of Representatives.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Garcia’s case can be re-filed on the basis of Mendoza’s information. 

“There has been a change in the circumstances. In court, even if the decision has been declared final and executory, if there is a new evidence you can move for a new trial because that is the ground provided by the Rules of Court,” she said.

As this developed, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Francis Escudero, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada called on the public and the soldiers to rally behind former military budget officer George Rabusa and Mendoza.

It was Rabusa and Mendoza who have separately exposed the shenanigans at the AFP.

“We call on our ordinary soldiers, those risking their lives in battle, not to be dismayed by these new developments. They should instead support their officers, Rabusa and Mendoza, who have shown exemplary courage and integrity in coming out with their revelations at the risk of their own lives. These are the true marks of gallantry in soldiering, which every soldier has in them,” Pangilinan said.

He also urged the military personnel not to be dismayed by the exposes.

“You have in your ranks true officers who are battling side by side with you as you face the enemies of the state and willing to risk their lives for you,” Pangilinan said.

Escudero said the investigations should hold accountable those who took advantage of the coffers of the Armed Forces for personal gain without destroying the institution itself.

“I still believe that a majority of our officers and men in uniform are honest and hardworking. It would be a disservice to lump them together with those crooked individuals,” he said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said that there should be a conscious effort in the investigations to always preserve the integrity of the institution as a whole no matter how many rotten men belong to the Armed Forces.

“The truth stares us in the face that greed and its monopoly have corrupted the military institution and for this, those who raided the military coffers and raped its system must be held accountable. The investigations should work as to make these crooks know that they are not invincible and that they are not above the law,” he said, adding that former military generals Angelo Reyes, Carlos Garcia, Jacinto Ligot and others who are into corruption do not comprise the whole Armed Forces.

“They are just the little dirty party in the military, the biggest party is still made up of men who work with risk and sacrifice. These are our soldiers who live and die in the name of the country’s freedom and democracy,” Escudero said.

Estrada, on the other hand, expressed belief that the AFP should continue receiving a huge share in the yearly budget.

“These revelations on the ‘generosity’ of some high rank military officers in rewarding not only their peers but even themselves of additional benefits, should not put us off in addressing the concerns of thousands of our lowly soldiers,” he said.

Corruption could affect morale

Enrile urged the current AFP leadership to assure its members that there are efforts to curb the massive corruption in the military. He admitted that the issue could pose a problem to the morale of the AFP. 

“We should be very careful that the rank and file in the military will not be disillusioned and disaffected. Show to the rank and file of the military organization that there’s a higher authority that can discipline anybody, including generals, so that the clash in the soldiery in the country will be resolved,” he said.

The Senate President expressed optimism the Aquino administration will ensure that the problems will be addressed. 

“I will not assume that they will fail. I’m sure that they are as equally interested in seeing to it that the institutions will work properly. Let us not talk of failures, let us talk of positive things,” said Enrile, who added he is also willing to be investigated if it is found that he may have committed wrongdoing while in public service.

Estrada enjoined colleagues to review the salary structure of the rank and file and junior officers vis-à-vis the senior officials in the Armed Forces, in the light of the expose on fund misuse.

“This is an eye-opener for all of us, the overindulgence of some generals, at the expense of the taxpayers. Our soldiers, who are in the line of fire, who have chosen to embrace the noble profession of arms, should be spared from this scandal,” Estrada said.  

He said lawmakers should not lose track of the fact that soldiers remain ill equipped and underpaid.

“I still believe that there are only but few rotten eggs in the military that we must get rid of,” Estrada said.

De Lima, Gutierrez at loggerheads

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez engaged in a word war yesterday in connection with former general Garcia’s plea-bargaining agreement forged by state prosecutors.

In a press conference, De Lima said she found “disturbing” the manner by which Gutierrez defended the controversial plea-bargain deal before the House of Representatives committee on justice last Tuesday.

“If we have an Ombudsman who doesn’t seem to realize that public funds are involved, then we have a problem. I saw how the Ombudsman firmly justified the plea bargaining agreement, standing by the agreement. There are portions which are disturbing,” she told reporters.

De Lima criticized the Ombudsman for saying that it was difficult for the government to pursue the plunder case since the contractors in the criminal information were identified only as John and Jane Does. – Edu Punay, Michael Punongbayan

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with