Ex-AFP chief Abu: No 'pabaon'

- Alexis Romero -

MANILA, Philippines –  Former Armed Forces chief Efren Abu yesterday denied receiving any pabaon or sendoff money when he retired from the service.

Abu said he had implemented measures to prevent corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Abu said he never aspired for any financial incentive apart from the normal pay and allowances he was entitled to.

“In my tenure as chief of staff, I have not received and have never sought any of the so-called pabaon or form of compensation other than my normal pay and allowances, including authorized travel and representation allowances, and per diems as chairman of AFP-owned financial institutions,” Abu said.

Abu, who served as AFP chief from Oct. 29, 2004 to Aug. 15, 2005, said he traveled abroad twice without any member of his family accompanying him.

“Now that I have retired, I receive the retirement benefits prescribed by the relevant law, rules and regulations,” he said.

Abu said he implemented structural changes designed to curb corruption in the AFP, including the abolition of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Comptrollership, which was then headed by Carlos Garcia, who is now facing plunder raps.

Garcia was accused of stealing more than P300 million from state coffers.

Abu said four offices were formed to promote check and balance in the military, among them the Resource Management Office, the Management and Fiscal Office, the Office of Accounting Services, and the Office of the Internal Auditor.

Abu said he ordered the return of billions of funds managed by the main headquarters to the major services to ensure that these would reach their intended users.

“Only the salaries of the technical services and civilian personnel were left in the general headquarters. This was intended to eliminate any chance of these funds being used for inappropriate purposes,” he said.

Abu said he also abolished the AFP Logistics Command that used to handle procurement for the military.

Abu said he ordered the implementation of a control system for the purchase of logistics for the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

“In order to preclude any chances of corruption in central procurement, I ordered the devolvement of the power and functions of the AFP Logistics Command to the major services,” he said.

Abu said he also implemented a cash advance system to deter the “conversion” of military funds.

He said he activated the AFP Counter-Intelligence Group to help the internal auditor and the Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability to monitor violations of existing rules.

“In the almost 10 months I was the (AFP) chief, aside from my primary duty, reforming the AFP was foremost in my mind,” he said.

Allegations of corruption in the AFP surfaced after retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa told a Senate hearing last week that top military officials were given millions in cash gifts.

Rabusa said former military chiefs were, by AFP “tradition,” given millions in send-off money upon their retirement.

He said the Air Force, Army, Navy and other AFP offices were used as clearinghouses to allow key officers to avail themselves of huge bonuses.

Abu said the revelations about the alleged malpractices in the AFP should be taken as a wake-up call to cleanse the system.

“The attention and focus created by the media on the irregularities of our institution should be seen in a positive light, one that will help cleanse our systems, support the momentum of reforms and bring back the prestige and respect of the AFP,” he said.

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