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General claims Rabusa real architect of AFP fund scam

MANILA, Philippines - Another general implicated in the alleged corruption in the military questioned yesterday the Department of Justice (DOJ) for approving the plunder case against them based on testimony of former military budget officer George Rabusa.

Brig. Gen. Benito de Leon said the DOJ findings were based on perjured statements of Rabusa, whom he accused as the “real architect” of the systematic corruption in AFP.

His lawyer Florante Legaspi Jr. vowed to question before the Office of the Ombudsman the resolution of the DOJ, which they also accused of “coddling the real perpetrator” of the purported misuse of P2.3 billion of soldiers’ funds between the period of 2000 to 2005.

“This is a sad day for the country’s justice system because the Department of Justice has allowed a complainant, Col. George Rabusa who is most guilty, ill-motivated and the mastermind to cover up the ill-gotten (wealth) he has acquired for himself through the plunder of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) funds, to perjure himself and to use his false statement to pin down innocent persons to exonerate himself of his criminal acts,” Legaspi said in a statement.

Once the DOJ resolution is forwarded to the Ombudsman, Legaspi said they will file a motion to set aside the findings of the DOJ panel and instead conduct its own full-blown preliminary investigation of the alleged AFP fund mess.

He lamented that the DOJ panel has deliberately closed their eyes on the fact and evidence that it was Rabusa and his cohorts who actually plundered the military treasury, as demonstrated by his admission in amended complaint-affidavit.

“The Department of Justice or the Office of the Ombudsman should look into the admissions of Rabusa in his amended complaint-affidavit that he opened private bank accounts of millions of pesos which came from the AFP,” the lawyer noted.

According to him, actual cases of plunder, unexplained wealth and graft have been filed against Rabusa and other officers before the Ombudsman several years back and some of them are pending in court.

“The AMLA has also submitted proofs of his wealth. He and his cohorts have admitted having raided the AFP treasury through conversions and other illicit activities. Finally, in addition to the above cases, they should be also investigated for tax evasion,” Legaspi said.

Hitting back at Rabusa

Former auditor Arturo Besana, who has been cleared by the DOJ panel of involvement in the AFP fund mess, vowed to file a plunder case against Rabusa on the basis of the complainant’s admission of his role in the plunder of the AFP treasury.

De Leon, the current chief of Management and Fiscal Office at general headquarters of the AFP, served as executive assistant to then AFP chief Gen. Roy Cimatu, who was also recommended for indictment for plunder by the DOJ panel of prosecutors.

Cimatu’s lawyer Sixto “Tito” Antonio had earlier denounced the findings of the DOJ’s panel recommending his indictment for plunder on the basis of “spurious” documents submitted by Rabusa.

Antonio stressed that the DOJ panel blatantly disregarded his client’s arguments and his position that spurious, unofficial evidence was introduced by Rabusa.

Apart from Cimatu and De Leon, also recommended charged with plunder by the DOJ panel chaired by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano were: retired AFP chief Gen. Diomedio Villanueva, former military comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot, Col. Cirilo Tomas Donato; retired Lt. Col. Ernesto Paranis; Maj. Gen. Hilario Atendido; Philippine Army (PA) Col. Roy Devesa; former Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) resident auditor Divina Cabrera; and accountant Generoso del Castillo.

In a 105-page resolution released last Jan. 5, the investigating panel concluded that there is ample evidence to prove that respondents connived and benefited in the long-time schemes of converting multi-billion funds intended for projects of various units of the AFP including its intelligence division into personal use of the respondents, including the “pabaon” for retiring generals.

The findings, however, are still subject to review and approval of the Office of the Ombudsman, which has jurisdiction on prosecution of graft and plunder cases before the Sandiganbayan.
By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated January 09, 2012 12:00 AM


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