Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Pleasant day to you fellow global citizens!
Criminal investigations are currently hounding the Philippine military, with retired generals serving as frontal targets of congressional investigations. The dirty practices among echelon officers in the headquarters of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) include huge slush funds juggled from soldiers’ salaries and ghost battalions, and listening to the investigation proceedings is like watching a super-shocker horror film.
The new rounds of investigations have revealed corrupt practices that were heretofore untold. There is, for instance, the pabaon system whereby a retiring Chief of Staff will be automatically gifted with P50 Millions in cash. As a result of the corrupt practices, generals are able to own mansions, invest in estates and condominiums, or splurge cash outflows for assets that are way beyond what their salaries can afford them to consume.
I hope that the investigators will review the link between the AFP and the Pentagon (US Defense Department & military) to be able to effectively trace the roots of the corrupt practices. The AFP was a child of the Pentagon, US defense officials continued to have direct links to the AFP’s echelon even after RP gained independence in 1946, and the war policies of the AFP were copied straight from the father unit Pentagon whose war policies have been benefiting Defense and military officials from the colossal arms contracts.
War makes some people much richer than before, and that is the political economy of hot pursuit aggressions. Not only do some people in the military make money out of arms & supplies purchases, thus making war a necessity of the moment. Financier oligarchs, who finance wars, also make money from the hot fires of conflicts, as they rake in mega-profits from rapid cross-border movements of ‘smart money’ that take place in the region where conflict happens.
In the Pentagon, officials’ grins always stretch up to their ears, for the reason that arms contracts are ceaseless sources of boons like some waterfalls of cash. Concurred without biddings, arms suppliers and Pentagon bosses connive to jack up the prices of arms & supplies by as much as 14 times their expected wholesale prices. A bullet worth $1 for instance will be padded sky-high to $14, thus making Pentagon and arms producers very happy.
“Like Father like Son,” goes an old folk cliché. Though seemingly silly, the cliché seems to describe the AFP perfectly being a clone of the father (Pentagon). The matter of corruption in arms & supplies purchases is already a classic one to behold, investigated on and on like vicious circle.
An addition to the list of corrupt practices was the embezzlement of pension funds for military veterans. Again, the same echelon officials were involved in the anomalies, even as their bottomless greed resulted to the bankrupting of accumulated pension funds for veterans. As a response to the problem, the national government was compelled, via legislative measure, to allot additional appropriations to fund the pension gap so as provide crumbs to the obedient retired soldiers.
Just less than a decade ago, young officers sent to the battlefields (versus local rebels) were shocked over the directive that they drop off caches of arms and munitions to the enemy area. That was a clear indication that echelon officers were selling arms to the enemy, making big bucks and living in style in the Big City, while young officers and enlisted personnel were eking a living in the battlefields and living in shabby Spartan barracks.
The mafia behavior of echelon AFP officers, such as selling arms to the enemy and racketeering, surely couldn’t have been bred as a genuine unique behavior by themselves. The behavior was copied elsewhere, and that the same officers were emboldened to do their criminal graft acts as they felt they were protected by gods in the Philippine Establishment and the Pentagon.
As a matter of fact, the directives for the AFP to resume large-scale attacks on the rebels (Muslim separatist & Maoist) and jihadist terrorists could have come straight from Pentagon and not the PH presidential palace. The chiefs of staff of the AFP are henchmen of certain Pentagon officials, the most recent Pentagon honchos being the neo-conservatives entrenched there by the Bush father & son.
Ergo, in the case of any large-scale investigation of military corruption, the investigation shouldn’t stop at the AFP generals alone. It should go much higher than the generals, and that “much higher” should point out straight to the US Pentagon. Not only is the PH AFP corrupt, it also comprises of officers whose patriotism is for sale to the highest bidders, and it is high time to reform it or abolish it altogether.
[Philippines, 19 February 2011]
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