Articles and Opinion relative to the situation surrounding the unfortunate death of General
Angelo Reyes during investigations of corruption in the Armed Forces
RETIRED ARCHBISHOP OSCAR CRUZ
Three lessons from Reyes’ death
“First, please lead your life as you should according to ethical standards,
moral principles and according to natural law. You do not get what is not yours and you do not steal. God only gave 10 commandments
but two of these are about honesty. It is beneficial, profitable to live an honest and righteous life.”
“Second, God is bigger that any sin. God is more merciful than any crime.
Therefore, for those who have, for one reason or another, commit serious offenses, the only thing that they have to do is
to repent their misdeeds and return the money, which is not theirs. This is the restitution that is mandatory because I may
steal and say sorry but keep the money. The best proof of repentance is that you return precisely what does not belong to
“The third lesson is that the higher the office given to someone, the
more power and influence he exercises in society, the more careful he should be because public welfare and the common good
are not the only things at stake here. Temptation at the top of the ladder is very big."
With the Philippinesstill reeling from the apparent suicide of a retired general who had been implicated
in an investigation of military graft, a spokesman for the armed forces said Thursday that such corruption was a thing of
“We’d like to
inform you and stress that reforms have been ongoing as far back as a decade ago,” the spokesman, Lt. Gen. Jose Mabanta
Jr., said at a news conference. “Malpractice does not happen at this time.”
He spoke two days after Angelo
Reyes, a former defense secretary and chief of staff of the armed forces, died of a gunshot wound at the cemetery where his
mother was buried, in what a police official called a suicide.
In Senate testimony last
month, George Rabusa, a retired colonel who had been a budget officer in the military comptroller’s office, had accused
Mr. Reyes and two other former chiefs of staff of pocketing the equivalent of millions of dollars from a slush fund maintained
with kickbacks from military contractors. Mr. Reyes was chief of staff in 2000 and 2001; he later became defense secretary.
On Thursday, General Mabanta
said the system that had made the slush fund possible was no longer in place. He said the comptroller’s office had been
abolished in 2005 in response to a commission’s recommendations, and had been replaced by four units that operate independently
of one another.
General Mabanta also said
the military had improved its rules and guidelines concerning the use of funds from theUnited Nationsand other agencies. Mr. Rabusa had alleged in his Senate testimony
that money from the United Nations to pay for the services of Philippine peacekeepingmissions
abroad had often been misappropriated.
General Mbanta said the military
establishment had been reeling from the revelations. “No doubt the armed forces has been affected by this series of
exposÚs,” he said. “It is our soldiers who would really like to find out what has happened because we are the
Mr. Rabusa’s revelations
have gripped the Philippines, even though allegations of official corruption are far from uncommon in the country.
Rep. Roilo Golez, vice chairman
of the House committee on national security and defense, which is also holding hearings on the issue, said Thursday that while
changes are indeed being implemented, there is still a need to investigate whether these are working and whether corruption
has actually ended. “This is what we are trying to determine, so it is important that the hearings continue,”
he said in an interview.
Carolina Hernandez, a political
science professor at the University of the Philippines who was a member of the Feliciano Commission that investigated corruption
in the armed forces in 2004, said Tuesday that these revelations were not new, and she called the current hearings “hypocrisy
of the highest degree.”
as if this is the first time that this happened,” she said.
“It’s been there
since — I don’t know — time immemorial?”
While there have been improvements,
she said, the changes recommended by the Feliciano Commission and similar commissions in the past either were late in coming
or not fully implemented.
In January, the Department
of National Defense promised to conduct its own investigation into the scandal to determine whether these practices were still
Meanwhile, the family of
the Mr. Reyes is considering filing charges against those who accused him of corruption, their lawyer said Thursday.
The military has said it
would give him full military honors.
At his wake in Manila, dignitaries
and former presidents paid their respects since Wednesday.
In an interview over radio
station DZIQ, former president Fidel V. Ramos, himself a former general, praised Mr. Reyes for his courage, calling Mr. Reyes’s
apparent suicide a “daring sacrifice for the common good.” Mr. Reyes, he said, “tried to save the institutions
that he represented.” He would not elaborate.
Former Defense Secretary Orly Mercado
Misplaced sense of “esprit
de corps” to blame
In an interview with the Inquirer
earlier this week, Mercado noted a strong bond among generals in the ongoing congressional investigationof an alleged use of slush funds.
“The concept of esprit de corps has been
misinterpreted and misused in the military,” he said.
“Esprit de corps is very important in
combat because you have to help each other, but that’s during combat. You can’t cover up each other in fund irregularities.
There should be no esprit de corps on the issue of graft and corruption.”...
At present, he said, the defense department
has no direct control over AFP funds. He said there had been instances when AFP requests for purchases, such as bullets, went
directly to the Office of the President.
He said purchases and contracts amounting to
less than P50 million required only the signature of the AFP chief of staff. Those above P50 million need only the approval
of the defense secretary.
To get around the system, Mercado said the AFP
resorted to “chop-chop,” splitting their requests into two or three purchases so that each purchase would not
reach P50 million, and thus avoid getting his signature.
He said there also was a need for transparency
on purchases and the use of intelligence funds.
“National security has always been the
excuse in terms of secrecy, in terms of being transparent,” Mercado said.
“Unfortunately so many of the problems
we’re seeing now are happening because of so-called national security. I think more transparency is better than national
The Philippine national flag is displayed at half-mast Tuesday following the death of Gen.
Angelo Reyes at the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters north of Manila. Reyes, accused of embezzling at
least $1 million from the armed forces, died of a single gunshot wound in what witnesses described as an apparent suicide
in front of his mother's grave.
A former Philippines military chief accused of massive corruption in recent Senate hearings
died Tuesday, having apparently shot himself. The military corruption scandal has been a challenge for President Benigno Aquino
III, who took office last year pledging to root out widespread graft, and has Filipinos thinking about their legacy of "People
In 2007, an armored fighting vehicle and commandos smashed their way into the lobby of Manila's
posh Peninsula Hotel, chasing after Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. He was jailed for leading an attempted coup d'etat against then-President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Now retired, Lim says he still gets funny looks from security guards when he enters the hotel. But
lately he has been feeling vindicated.
Former army budget officer George Rabusa last month told Senate investigators that army chiefs
of staff, including Gen. Angelo Reyes, had controlled large slush funds and received multimillion-dollar retirement gifts.
On Tuesday, Reyes shot himself in an apparent suicide.
Lim says that last July, he counseled Rabusa to blow the whistle.
"I advised him that if he was going to talk about the corruption, this is the time to do it.
We have a new president whose program is anti-corruption, a new political atmosphere," he said.
In this March 1, 2003, photo, then-Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes is interviewed
at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles after meetings in Washington with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Reyes
died in an apparent suicide Tuesday.
Some poorly equipped Filipino soldiers might be outraged to hear of graft among their commanders,
but Lim says the Senate investigation has actually encouraged most of the troops.
"I see that our men in uniform are happy," he says. "Morale is high, because this time we are
openly talking about corruption in the military. It's a confirmation of what everybody has been talking about."
Next month, Filipinos will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution
that toppled U.S.-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos and replaced him with Corazon Aquino, the mother of the current president,
Benigno Aquino III.
The past 25 years have seen coup attempts, corruption scandals and other signs that the revolution
had limited effect on the country. But pollster Mahar Mangahas says that since President Aquino's election last May, 69 percent
of Filipinos surveyed are satisfied with their country's democratic process.
"I feel like I've been waiting for this for 12 years," Mangahas says. "This is something that
should come about every six years. But six years ago, we didn't have it. You know, it was as though ... we went through a
presidential election and we did not feel renewed."
After more than half a year in office, Aquino still enjoys 80 percent approval ratings. Mangahas
says it helps that Arroyo, who is widely believed to have rigged her re-election in 2004, was the Philippines' most unpopular
President Benigno Aquino III speaks during a peace rally Tuesday in suburban Quezon City north
of Manila, Philippines. Aquino, who promised to root out widespread corruption when he was elected last year, has an approval
rating of 80 percent.
Aquino pledged after his election last year to create a so-called Truth Commission to look
into graft charges against his predecessor. But the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.
Ateneo de Manila University law professor Carlos Medina says that was a heavy blow to the new
"It was like a flagship program of the president, at the top of his anti-corruption programs,
because it was executive order No. 1. And he was really stung by the decision of the Supreme Court," Medina says.
Critics point out that 14 out of 15 Supreme Court judges are Arroyo appointees.
Aquino has also benefited from a robust economy, which grew at 7.3 percent last year, the fastest
pace since 1986. But University of the Philippines public administration expert professor Leonor Briones warns that an angry
and hungry underclass could rise up and wipe out much of the Philippines' impressive economic gains. She refers to the president
by two of his nicknames.
"There's a great deal of sentimental affection for PNoy, because of the mother," Briones says.
"And he came in on a program of reform and anti-corruption. At this time, they don't associate their hunger, their joblessness
Briones notes that civilian and military leaders have seldom been held accountable for past
corruption scandals. But she hopes it will be different this time.
A former Philippines military chief caught up in a corruption probe died after shooting himself
in the chest at his mother's graveside, witnesses said Tuesday, an apparent casualty of a deepening effort across parts of
Asia to stamp out graft.
Witnesses interviewed by local radio stations at a Manila cemetery said retired Gen. Angelo
Reyes sent his children to a waiting car at the cemetery before a single shot was heard. He was pronounced dead on arrival
at a city hospital. Officials are awaiting the results of an autopsy before ruling whether Gen. Reyes—who was accused
in a Philippine Senate hearing last month of accepting more than $1 million in illegal retirement payments—took his
Gen. Reyes, 65 years old and a former minister of both defense and energy,
angrily denied the allegations. People who knew him say he was concerned that his family was being dragged into the Senate
corruption probe, which, with the backing of President Benigno Aquino III's government, has widened in recent weeks to focus
on other former army chiefs as well as United Nations payments to Filipino peacekeeping troops that were allegedly siphoned
off by military commanders.
Some analysts see the investigations as the Philippines' strongest attempt yet to crack down
on corruption and reset its graft-ridden economy. Several countries around the region view fighting corruption as a crucial
tool in upgrading their economies after years of neglect and thrusting them into the mainstream of international investment.
Robert Klitgaard, an anticorruption specialist and professor at Claremont Graduate University
in California, says that as up-and-coming economies try to move up the value chain and attract more sophisticated businesses
and industries, authorities realize they have to do more to rein in corruption. Some Southeast Asian nations are attempting
exactly that as they seek to counter the competitive threat from Vietnam, Bangladesh and parts of Africa, though how much
success they will have is uncertain.
Malaysia, where nepotism and favoritism have annoyed and sometimes deterred foreign businesses
for decades, is acting more aggressively to root out a culture of graft that Prime Minister Najib Razak blames for retarding
the country's potential. In recent months, prosecutors have launched several high-profile cases against government officials,
including a former transport minister, Ling Liong Sik, who pleaded not guilty last year to creating nearly $1 billion in budget
overruns at a massive port project near Kuala Lumpur.
China's government frequently vows to step up efforts to tackle corruption, though often with
little effect, while Indonesia, too, is attempting to bolster its graft-busting credentials. Last month, a court sentenced
prominent tax official Gayus Tambunan to seven years in prison after he admitted pocketing at least $2.7 million from companies
seeking to evade taxes.
Now the Philippines, ranked as worse than Uganda and Nicaragua in Berlin-based watchdog Transparency
International's annual corruption rankings, is stepping up its own campaign.
Mr. Aquino, the son of the late democracy icon and former President Corazon Aquino, is providing
much of the impetus. He was elected in a landslide last year with a "No Corruption, No Poverty" campaign that struck a chord
among many of the nation's nearly 100 million people, and while some analysts have questioned whether he will succeed, or
whether his efforts will distract from some other economic priorities, there are signs lately the effort is gaining ground.
Finance Minister Cesar Purisima in a recent interview said the government is revamping everything from the customs department
to local government procurement processes to cut down on waste and fraud.
"There's a lot of corruption on the expenditure side. Fighting that is going to be a big part
of the way forward," Mr. Purisima said.
Few Philippine institutions are believed to be as wasteful as its armed forces. In recent years,
junior officers have organized large mutinies against top brass, accusing them of corruption. In 2003, 321 soldiers led by
Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV took over a Manila hotel and shopping-mall complex and threatened to blow it up unless the
army's top-ranking officers and then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resigned. The mutiny quickly collapsed after failing
to win public support, although Lt. Trillanes was later elected to the Senate.
Mr. Aquino was taken aback in January when state prosecutors offered a plea bargain with another
retired general accused of embezzling $7 million, and instructed his attorney general to stop the deal, which would have enabled
retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia to serve a brief jail term and keep much of the money he allegedly stole.
The controversy revived Senate hearings into corruption in the armed forces, and Gen. Reyes
was implicated in the snowballing scandal when a former military budget chief, Col. George Rabusa, testified under oath that
he was among the recipients of unauthorized retirement payments.
Gen. Reyes, best known as the army chief who turned against former President Joseph Estrada
amid a massive popular revolt in 2001, had to be restrained from confronting Col. Rabusa at the Senate.
A similar investigation at the Philippines' House of Representatives resumed Tuesday, where
Gen. Reyes, in a letter written earlier in the week, apologized for not being able to attend the televised hearings.
t is ironic that as we approach this twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolution—with Egyptian demonstrators reminding us of the euphoria we Filipinos felt when we toppled our own over-staying
tyrant—those celebrations will have to be dampened by the passing of an honorable man who saw death as his only way
out of the corruption-ridden system that surrounded him. Retired General Angelo Reyes, who took his own life on February 7,
was an officer and a gentleman...and a deeply troubled public servant.
With each passing year it is becoming abundantly clear that the 1986 revolution—popularly
known as EDSA I—was for the most part, a failure. Although Ferdinand Marcos was toppled from power, the changes people
hoped would flourish never took root. Today, corruption is just as widespread, if not more so; bribery is commonplace; nepotism
is thriving; a handful of families still control most of the country's wealth; and a growing number of Filipinos live on less
than eight dollars a day.
Amidst this grinding poverty, the rich flaunt their riches and further sow seeds
of corruption as the less fortunate quickly realize that a quick way to attain that kind of wealth is to engage in illicit
activities on the side. For low-level public officials this can mean receiving a 'tip' from transactions that cross their
desk each day. For mid-level government workers it can mean favoring contractors who give kickbacks. For judges, it can mean rendering decisions based on who can pay them the most; and those lucky enough to be in the top rungs
of government, the sky's the limit as to what they can do and the piles of cash they can make.
Thus corruption in the Philippines has gotten so pervasive that public officials
from the very top down to the Barangay Tanods can be in on the take. Numerous foreign businessmen and even diplomats have
raised their concerns, the most recent being the country's Australian ambassador.
But corruption exists only because it is tolerated. Corruption has become a fact
of life in the today's Philippines. This is the world Angelo Reyes and every other Filipino now lives in. We accept it, we
tolerate it, we look the other way, we pretend it is not there, and sometimes we even benefit from it.
So if we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we know who really killed
Angelo Reyes...we look at that person every day in the mirror!
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff as well as other officials had ready cash for their
personal and operational use--a P20 million (US$459,000) "sinking fund," a former military budget officer said.
slush fund was on top of the initial cash gift, monthly allocation and send-off money for the chief of staff.
at the Senate, whistle-blower George Rabusa testified that the fund had been existing before he came aboard in 2000, and was
replenished by skimming off allocations for salaries and operational expenses of military units.
The conversion, he
said, had the go-signal of military comptrollers and the knowledge of state auditors who received commissions.
particular amount is intended for our superiors upstairs from the chief of staff to J6," Rabusa said at the inquiry into the
plea bargain between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and prosecutors in connection with the former's plunder case.
Rabusa said the fund was intended for the personal and operational expenses of the AFP chief of
staff down to the comptroller.
"We only inherited this," he said, indicating that this had been existing before the
terms of three former AFP chiefs of staff--Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu--under whom he had served as budget
At two previous Senate hearings, Rabusa disclosed the practice of giving an incoming chief of staff pasalubong
(initial cash gift) and an outgoing one with pabaon (send-off money).
The pasalubong was supposedly P10 million each
for Villanueva and Cimatu and the pabaon was P50 million for Reyes, P164 million for Villanueva and P80 million for Cimatu.
The amounts were in addition to the P5 million that the chief of staff was supposedly getting monthly.
Kept in vault
Rabusa, who was a lieutenant colonel then, said the P20 million fund was kept in a vault in his office.
he was relieved in 2002, Rabusa said he turned over the P20 million to his successor, then acting budget officer Col. Antonio
"Sonny" Lim, who then turned over the money to then comptroller Garcia.
Lim confirmed this, saying "General Garcia
told me to turn over the amount to him. He will take charge of the amount."
Garcia declined to say where the money
went and invoked again his right to self-incrimination, saying his answer might be covered by two forfeiture cases he was
facing in the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.
Skimmed off salaries
Like savings in a bank, the fund had to
be maintained at P20 million, otherwise it had to be replenished with skimmed off salaries and operational expenses in the
Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), Rabusa said.
"This is like a sinking fund. When
you compare it to water, and it reaches a critical level, you have to do something to fill up the bottle again," he said.
Then Col. Victor Corpus was the ISAFP chief, the former budget officer said.
the amount, Rabusa said the budget office would convert funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and personnel
services (PS) into the slush fund.
When the blue ribbon committee chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, asked him if
he was converting funds meant for soldiers' salaries, Rabusa said: "There's no other source but the PS."
his group was able to do this because of excess funds arising from the fact that the military had submitted a higher "troop
ceiling" than the actual AFP strength on the ground to the Department of Budget and Management for the annual budget.
Franklin Drilon, chair of the committee on ways and means, said that the budget was released to the military based on the
troop ceiling, not on the number of troops in the field.
Through a slide presentation, Rabusa presented documents
that he himself had signed as budget officer converting ISAFP's PS funds into the slush fund.
PS means conversion
"If you see the term personnel services, automatic, that's conversion," Rabusa said, pointing to items in the documents.
Hearing this, Guingona told Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, the current AFP vice chief of staff: "That is something that
we should look into, as we see it's a source of conversion for corruption."
The practice of
conversion had apparently become so common that even then Gen. Efren Abu had asked Rabusa to convert PS funds for the operating
expenses of Abu's office, J3, which he then headed.
"He asked for my help to free up the MOOE so he can use this to
be released to operating units... I told him our only source is the PS for soldiers," Rabusa said.
He said that auditor
Divina Cabrera and by extension her immediate boss, then Commissioner Raul Flores of the Commission on Audit, were aware of
the conversion of ISAFP funds for the slush fund.
"Our auditor was aware of this," Rabusa said.
who was detailed with the ISAFP for 13 years until 2005, denied Rabusa's allegation.
To refresh Cabrera's memory,
Rabusa said that if the budget office had converted P50 million, it would have to release a P5 million additional allotment.
Two percent of the P5 million or P100,000 was given to Cabrera.
"She even asked for an increase, from 1 percent
to 2 percent," he said. Cabrera again denied this.
Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit said she and the other prosecutors
would consult one another on what course of action to take on what Guingona described as "strong accusations" against Cabrera.
"I deny all the accusations given by Rabusa. I know that I did my job as auditor of the COA. I based all my audit
work on the rules and regulations prescribed by the COA," Cabrera said.
Rabusa also said that Cabrera introduced him
to her "handler," Raul Flores, whom he met at Steaktown on West Avenue in Quezon City and SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
He said he handed Flores an envelope containing P200,000 each time they met. He said they met at least three times.
Rabusa and Cabrera are close friends.
Cabrera said she did not ask for a reassignment from ISAFP because she
only audited simple transactions covering post-audit liquidations. Auditors are assigned to agencies for three years.
the 13 years that she was assigned to ISAFP, she said the agency's certifications on the liquidation of intelligence funds
were "in order." But the COA issued suspension orders "if we find discrepancies," she said.
"I have heard of it,"
she said when asked if she knew about the practice of conversion.
Loyola Grand Villas
Cabrera, however, said
that she did not find any irregularity in the liquidation of ISAFP funds because she audited only documents that were submitted
Under grilling by Drilon, Cabrera admitted to owning a P2.5 million house on a 600-sq-m property at the posh
Loyola Grand Villas subdivision in Quezon City. She had the house built in 1992.
Drilon then remarked: "If the COA
is listening now, they may want to review the assignment of Cabrera to the Philippine Navy. Because she has been in ISAFP
for 13 years. Now she's back again in the Philippine Navy, still with the AFP. I think prudence dictates that at this point
when all these revelations are being made in this hearing I call on the COA to recall and reassign Ms Cabrera immediately."
Rabusa reiterated that he and Garcia had "converted" almost P1 billion in 2002, and this amount went to ISAFP and
Asked if the release of portions of P1 billion for ISAFP, which has 1,000 personnel and 32 people, including attaches,
posted abroad, did not raise alarm bells, Cabrera said allocations for PS were processed in the general headquarters, and
only allocations for the PS of defense attaches were released to the ISAFP.
In the wake of Rabusa's
expose, seven congressmen composing the militant bloc in the House of Representatives Monday filed a bill mandating the oversight
and audit of billions of pesos in government intelligence and confidential funds.
Representatives Teodoro Casino and
Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis,
Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan filed House Bill No. 4127 or the proposed Intelligence and
Confidential Funds Transparency Act of 2011.
“MAP Insights” Column in BUSINESSWORLD – 8 March 2011
Improving Governance in the Military
Angie Reyes' select final words:"I
did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps, my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life
. . . .While I am familiar with finance, I must admit I had scant knowledge of military comptrollership. Personally, zero
experience. Never been assigned as disbursement officer, etc., no stint. It’s a military field of specialization that
I do not have." (Source: “The Final Words of Angelo T. Reyes” by Malou Mangahas – The Philippine Center
for Investigative Journalism)
Based on my years of experience in the accounting and financial field, I have observed that many high
ranking officers who get appointed to the Comptrollership or Financial Management positions, be it of a profit- or non-profit-oriented
entities or in government-owned and controlled corporations, do not have the necessary financial expertise and experience
to handle the highly complex tasks required of these positions. Unfortunately, these finance officers are the ones who provide
financial information to their superiors, who in turn make critical decisions based on the financial data submitted.
Many corporate failures are attributed to wrong decisions made by top management and
directors, many of whom are not finance-oriented themselves and who merely rely on the representations of the Comptroller
or Chief Finance Officer (CFO), the supposedly guardian of the integrity of financial data. Thus, if these finance officers
are not experts in their own turfs, it becomes a ‘case of the blind leading the blind’. Financial fiascos ensue.
Corruption creeps in. The Philippine Military establishment could be in similar dilemma. Its Comptrollership department is
led and managed by officers with military background, but who are most probably without adequate expertise and background
in the fields of accounting and finance, especially in government accounting.
Comptrollership, whether applied in business or military, is a specialized financial function whose responsibilities
include, among others, financial administration, asset and facility management, contracting and procurement management as
well as internal monitoring services. The function requires that the person responsible and the subordinates be adept in finance
and accounting, particularly in government accounting and budgeting.Modesty
aside, we, professional accountants, even have to go for our masters degree courses to improve our credentials and be called
‘experts’ in the field. Merely being able to read and understand basic financial reports as a user is not enough
qualification to become a financial implementer or strategist, like a Comptroller or CFO. Angie and the other military officers
appointed to key financial positions might all be considered experts in military operations, but most probably are just neophytes
in the field of accounting and finance.
The area of finance is not the military officers’ cup of tea. And Angie’s
final words could probably be descriptive of the tight situations similarly faced by the other beneficiaries andfinance officers concerned, i.e. no relevant finance and accounting experience, no knowledge of budgeting,
cash management, and so on.They merely received compensations and other perks
that the flawed system had generated, without ifs and buts and as the Comptroller’s office had computed …. a
‘way of life’ in the military. The Comptroller himself, being a non-finance person, might only have a vague idea,
if at all, of the imperfect system, but without financial expertise, it is beyond his capability to think of strategies or
approaches to address the irregularities, much less improve the internal accounting control system in the department.
Adding to the complexities of undertaking finance responsibilities is the fact that there is no so-called perfect internal
and operating control system. As a matter of business practice, internal control systems are subjected to regular review and
evaluation to determine their continuing effectiveness and relevance. Internal audit departments are created by establishments.
In government institutions, it is the Commission on Audit (COA) which assigns auditors to check and evaluate the internal
control systems. Only highly skilled financial officers could effectively oversee the maintenance of a strong internal control
Thus, without a financial-literacy-laden and independent
Comptrollership department, it would be extremely difficult for the Military to address its age-old financial ‘mess’.
A strong and reliable department could serve as a solid deterring factor against any surge in perpetration of fraud and other
irregularities as well as intentional omissions or misrepresentations of facts. The laxity in the technical requirements for
financial literacy cannot therefore be ignored.The field of accountancy and
finance is the domain of the professional accountants.
Financial Governance Structure
Moving forward, to eliminate corruption in the Philippine Military establishment,
to have an effective check and balance system in handling huge military funds and expenditures and for transparency purposes,
professionalism in the Comptrollership office must be heightened. The Comptrollership function must be assigned to financial
experts.For instance, the department could hire a retired professional COA supervising
auditor to head the department, or consider sourcing those retired senior managers or partners of reputable professional accounting
firms. COA’s decision to strictly implement rotation of auditors every three years combined with heightened professionalism
in the Comptrollership office would ensure proper accountability of funds, and possibly eradicate corruption.More than anything else, there should perhaps be a comprehensive review and evaluation of the effectiveness
of the entire Comptrollership function, done by professional consultants, in lieu of series of so-called ‘stop gap’
measures currently being undertaken.
(Finally, this article relates only to the financial area of governance in the military,
and thus should not be associated with nor used in any manner to taint the operational integrity of our entire military establishment
in serving the best interests of the Filipino people.)
(This article reflects the personal opinion of
the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines.The writer is a corporate governance advocate and a financial and risk management
consultant.He is the Vice Chair and CEO of the Corporate Governance Institute
of the Philippines and a Board member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the
has an accumulated 40 years of background and experience in accounting, auditing and risk management. Feedback at email@example.com.For previous
articles, please click
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iProsupports the process of reducing
corruption by seeking synergies between Government of the Republic of
the Philippines agencies and civil society at all levels.
This website primarily serves to gather for research and educational purposes in one
single place news and information specifically pertinent to integrity and corruption in the Philippines. The news items,
views, editorials and opinions summarized or reported on this website are taken from the general media and reputable blogs,
websites, etc., and are exclusively the responsibility of the original sources and/or authors. In accordance with Title
17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those
who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only.