No sanction against Marine general for ‘pork scam’ sentiment
MANILA, Philippines–The military leadership on Wednesday said that it will not sanction the Marine general that expressed his frustrations on the pork barrel scam over Facebook.
“He will not [be punished] because it was never his intent to say those things in public, it was a sentiment that a lot of Filipinos have sentiments and these sentiments [were] meant only for his friends and his family and never to be made public,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told reporters.
The spokesman also denied reports that the general was relieved of his position.
Last week, Brigadier General Alexander Balutan, who currently heads the 1st Marine Brigade based in Sultan Kudarat, aired on Facebook his sentiments on pork barrel, and stated that the misused government funds could have instead used to address problems of armed conflict.
“That [money] should have been used to solve the lingering social issues [that caused] armed conflict,” part of his Facebook post said, which was dated on August 20.
But Zagala also reminded members of the military to be careful on what they post on social media.
“That’s why it is very important and the chief of staff is reminding all the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, although we have personal sentiments, must be careful…most especially [it could] be published by media so that it will not be misconstrued by the public as a breach of military discipline,” he also said.
In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Balutan said his Facebook post was meant exclusively for his friends and was not meant to cause an uprising.
“I did not say anything seditious. It’s just a sentiment of a soldier in Mindanao and was not meant to cause rebellion,” he said.
“I see nothing wrong with it. It’s just that we are a recipient of oppressed people’s frustrations,” he added.
He also emphasized his loyalty to the chain of command.
“No doubt I am loyal to the President,” he said.
Balutan said he also deleted his Facebook post not because he was taking back what he said, but to avoid his statements from being exploited by groups who would make it appear he was insinuating rebellion.
“I stand for what I believe is right, just and moral,” he said.
The Marine general once defied former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s orders not to attend an inquiry by testifying before the Senate in 2005 on his knowledge on the alleged cheating in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections. He was courtmartialed but his charges were proscribed or had lapsed in two years before he was brought to trial.
He was also awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers by Metrobank Foundation in 2011 for leading successful campaigns against Muslim separatist rebels.