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Soldier hunted for exposé

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Soldier hunted for exposé

Whistle-blower fears for family
/ 05:00 AM September 23, 2017

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Army corporal, who turned whistle-blower on alleged fund misuse in his mother unit, claimed he was now being hunted by the military and placed under surveillance.

Melvin Alfonso, formerly with the 7th Infantry Division (ID) based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija province, said soldiers had been casing the house of his father here after reports about his exposé came out.

Alfonso also said an unidentified officer called up his wife to ask where he was and to warn that people were after him.

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The officer supposedly told Alfonso’s wife that intelligence personnel were sent to his father’s house here.

Alfonso said, however, that the military men who went to his father’s house wanted to bring him back to Fort Magsaysay, the 7th ID base.

“My father, my wife and children are very affected,” Alfonso said. “I know they are living in fear like me and I am helpless, hiding,” he said.

Alfonso started revealing in May 2017 supposed irregularities at the 7th ID in a letter addressed to President Duterte.

Return to sender

He said he discovered the fund misuse, involving funds labeled as “return to sender” (RTS), as a staffer of the Management and Fiscal Office (MFO) of the division.

While on duty at the MFO, which supervises three brigades and six battalions, Alfonso said the misuse of funds shocked him.

In his letter to the President, Alfonso cited an example of how funds were misused.

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Out of a P10-million budget for the division, he said only P2 million was actually used and P8 million labeled  RTS.

The P8 million would be withdrawn from government banks and delivered to senior division officials.

“My senior officers told me not to ask anymore because it was part of the  Army tradition,” Alfonso said in his letter. He did not identify any officer, though.

For every RTS, Alfonso said staffers at the MFO get P5,000-P10,000 from their superior officers.

He said he once delivered millions of pesos in cash to the MFO of the Army’s general headquarters (GHQ) in Fort Bonifacio.

Alfonso became a signatory to conversion of funds in 2016.

Fake receipts

“It came to a point [where] I was directed to make vouchers, check dispositions, recording process of the budget, or convert an ASA (advise for suballotment) e-mail from the MFO GHQ to funds, and we have personnel tasked to produce fake receipts,” he said in his letter.

Alfonso said all the disbursements and transactions passed through the Commission on Audit (COA) without scrutiny.

When he could not stand it anymore, he said he went into vacation.

His furlough expired on Oct. 31, 2016 and went absent without leave, fearing for his and his family’s lives.

After he sent the letter about the fund misuse to Mr. Duterte, Alfonso was called to Malacañang on June 7 and met with lawyers of the Presidential Action Center, whom he identified in his letter as Daryl Ritchie Vallez, Rosbert Serona and Monica Calimbas-Lizaso.

He was told the President was too busy and that his letter would be referred to the Department of Defense.

“Since then the threats and harassment have become intense,” he said. —JULIE ALIPALA

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TAGS: AFP, Army, exposé, Regions, Witness, Zamboanga
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