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AFP budget for salaries withheld

First Posted 08:44:00 03/06/2011

Bacolod City ? The Department of Budget and Management has withheld the P20-billion budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the National Police for personnel services.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the budget would not be released until the PNP and AFP have submitted reports on the positions that have been filled up in their respective units.

?If they submit to us a report of positions being filled up, then we will begin to release the funds,? said Abad, who was with President Benigno Aquino III during his visit to Bacolod City on Friday.

Abad said the DBM was now more prudent in disbursing funds to government agencies after the Senate and House investigations into corruption in the military showed that the budget for unfilled positions had been diverted to a slush fund from which retiring chiefs of staff received multimillion going-away presents upon retirement.

The DBM has withheld the release of the P8.6 billion budget for AFP personnel services and more than P11 billion for the PNP until they submit the reports.

The budget for personnel services is equivalent to 20 percent of the Philippine military budget.

Abad said they received reports that 20 percent of the total allotment for personnel services of the AFP had not been used to actually hire soldiers and would end up as savings.

Former AFP comptrollers Carlos F. Garcia and Jacinto Ligot were accused by ex-AFP budget officer George Rabusa of amassing unexplained wealth at the expense of the Philippine military organization.

Rabusa exposed the high-level corruption in the military, including a purported slush fund that benefitted the top brass, and named some of them as former AFP chiefs Diomedio Villanueva, Roy Cimatu and Angelo Reyes, who all denied the allegations.

The AFP, in a statement, said the 80 percent remaining budget for the entire 2011 can still cover the salaries of all its personnel until the middle of the third quarter.

?It has to be understood that the military cannot maintain a static number of personnel, and instead maintains constant fluctuation in its number due to inevitable circumstances such as attrition due to death, discharges, and optional and compulsory retirements,? the statement added.

The statement said AFP records show that it is already 97.2 percent filled up, and has an active recruitment system providing uninterrupted training that can easily fill up the remaining 2.8 percent. /INQUIRER

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