The Armed Forces of the Philippines failed to fully account and liquidate the more than P197 million given to it by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration for the 2004 elections, documents from the Mayuga report revealed.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, thus called on the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the said funds channelled to the AFP allegedly by the Commission on Elections through the joint COMELEC-AFP Task Force HOPE (Honest, Orderly, Peaceful Elections), a press release from Casiño’s office said.
“First, we have to know why and how COMELEC gave the P197 million to the AFP to spend in the 2004 elections and where the funds came from. We understand that so much money was changing hands at this time from several sources,” he said.
The solon said, disbursements appear questionable. The fact that bulk of the funds - P101 million – went to an alleged ‘intelligence project’, as mentioned by Ltc. Gilbert Gapay, budget officer of J3 directly under Gen. Esperon, already raises a red flag.
The AFP, particularly the generals and their budget officers, have yet to submit a detailed liquidation of their expenses during and after the elections, he added.
He also said he hopes that they can account for the money because, based on different testimonies in the annexes in the Mayuga report, there was no liquidation. That by itself should have warranted a case against the officers involved but the Mayuga panel ignored this important detail,” he added.
Then Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, the deputy commander of Task Force Hope and concurrently the J3 or Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the AFP told the Commission that, on liquidation of funds, it is automatic that when you received funds, you have to liquidate that, and on the matter of liquidation of funds it is done by the Comptroller in the Task Force Hope but since Task Force Hope has ceased to exist effective May 25, the matter of liquidating the funds is now on the regular set up, so it’s with J6, he also said.
But when Lt. Col. Robert Arevalo PA-Chief Budget, OJ6 was interviewed he said that in budget preparations, he does not know who prepares the budget of the Task Groups nor does he know where the funds go. He also said that the COMELEC, not the AFP, is answerable for the funds, the press release said.
He cited the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Balutan, Marine-Battalion Commander of MBLT 7, who said that he received from the Brigade around P50,000 to P60,000 cash for additional subsistence allowance but the cash had no clearing instruments, the press release said.
Lt. Col. Victoriano Pimentel, Battalion Commander MBLT 4 also received P90,000 to P100,000 from Task Force Comet but no expenditure report was required while another P70,000 was given and again no liquidation was asked. Another officer, LtCol Elmer Estopin , Batallion Commader of MBLT 10, received P75K from Gen. Habacon and no liquidation was required, the press release added.*
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