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WHISTLE-BLOWER TALE

Army unit probes disbursement mess

/ 05:20 AM September 19, 2017

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— The commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division (ID) on Monday ordered a review of the financial records of the unit following allegation of anomalies in 2014 in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province, where it is based.

Maj. Gen. Angelito de Leon said he also asked Camp Aguinaldo, the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters, to undertake a parallel investigation to prove or disprove the claims of whistle-blower, Cpl. Melvin Alfonso, who had gone into hiding.

According to De Leon, Alfonso was a member of the division’s service battalion until last year when he sought transfer to Camp Aguinaldo.

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De Leon learned of the supposed corruption through a story in the Inquirer. He said he had not read the whistle-blower’s report to President Rodrigo Duterte.

It was not clear who was the division commander when Alfonso supposedly discovered the irregularities involving funds called return to sender (RTS).

RTS refers to portions of operational funds allocated to the 7th ID which are allegedly withdrawn and diverted to senior officers.

Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri served as 7th ID commander from July 23, 2013, to Feb. 7, 2014; Brig. Gen. Vic Castro from Feb. 7 to April 2, 2014; and Maj. Gen. Glorioso Miranda from April 2, 2014, to Oct. 15, 2015.

Iriberri and Castro have retired while Miranda is the current Army chief.

Former Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., had said his predecessor, Emmanuel Bautista, had put in place anticorruption measures in the organization and its operational systems.

De Leon, who assumed command on Oct. 15, 2015, said the present system at the division had “very strict” fiscal and control measures.

Asked to confirm the existence of RTS funds through which soldiers allegedly get between P5,000 and P10,000, De Leon said, “None.”

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“There should be a basis for releasing money,” he said, adding that salaries of soldiers were released through ATM (automated teller machines).

The division handles maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) released by the national headquarters.

“Irregularities are not tolerated by our institution,” De Leon said. —Tonette Orejas

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TAGS: 7th Infantry Division, Angelito de Leon, Army anomalies, Melvin Alfonso, return to sender anomalies
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