Ex-generals beat plunder raps
Ombudsman cites lack of evidenceBy Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the dismissal of plunder charges against three former Armed Forces chiefs, 14 other top-ranking military officials and five civilians who worked for the military, citing the lack of evidence from the complainant, retired Col. George Rabusa.
In the decision, signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on July 2, 2012, but released only last April 4, the Ombudsman said that the allegations of Rabusa—who made his explosive revelations in several appearances at the Senate in 2011—of misappropriated funds were “unproven” and the result of “faulty and unreasonable computation.”
The Ombudsman’s decision gives retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia another chance to sidestep the plunder charges that have been filed against him for allegedly amassing millions of pesos in unexplained wealth while serving as the military comptroller in the early 2000s.
Plea bargain upheld
The Sandiganbayan antigraft court earlier this week upheld the plea bargain that Garcia had entered into with the Office of the Ombudsman.
In dismissing the charges, the six-member Ombudsman panel noted that Rabusa failed to show solid evidence to support his allegation that retired generals Diomedio Villanueva, Roy Cimatu and Efren Abu received millions of pesos as “pasalubong” and “pabaon” when they assumed office and retired as military chiefs.
Among those that Rabusa had accused at the Senate inquiry into his exposé in 2011 was his superior, another former AFP chief Angelo Reyes, who committed suicide after suffering humiliation from senators, including Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, at the Senate hearings.
Aside from Garcia and the former military chiefs, the Ombudsman also said that there was not enough evidence to charge with plunder the following: retired Maj. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, Maj. Gen. Hilario Atendido, Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, Maj. Gen. Epineto Logico, Capt. Kenneth Paglinawan, Col. Gilbert Gapay, Maj. Emerson Angulo, Maj. Gen. Ernesto Boac, Col. Robert Arevalo, Brig. Gen. Benito de Leon, Col. Cirilo Tomas Donato, Col. Roy Devesa, and Lt. Col. Ernesto Paranis.
No probable cause
The Ombudsman also did not find any probable cause against the Commission on Audit resident auditor, Divina Cabrera, and four other civilian employees of the AFP—Arturo Besana, Crisanto Gabriel, Manuel Warren and Generoso del Castillo.
Rabusa alleged that when he was the AFP budget officer, he gave Ligot a total of P360 million in a span of 15 months.
But according to the Ombudsman, “except bare allegations, Rabusa did not present competent evidence to show Ligot’s receipt of the source of the funds and how it was converted. In simple terms, the amount was a result of unproven allegations and faulty and unreasonable computation.”
In almost all the other allegations against the other respondents, the Ombudsman repeatedly said that Rabusa “did not present competent evidence…”
Rabusa claimed that from 1994 to 2002, funds allocated to the AFP were used “other than for the purpose intended” and were also allegedly pocketed by the respondents.
This was done through the military practice of “conversion,” he said.
Rabusa’s lawyer, Noel Malaya, said he was dismayed by the Ombudsman resolution.
“They said we didn’t have any evidence. I am entitled to file a motion for reconsideration but if the initial complaint was already denied because they said we don’t have any evidence, then what evidence should we show when we file our MR (motion for reconsideration)?” Malaya said in a phone interview.
“If there was no paper trail, then where did the money come from? From Rabusa’s own pocket? When I read the resolution, I really cannot understand why the complaint was dismissed,” he said.