Audit team sent to Army unit
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Army is sending an audit team to check the financial records of the 7th Infantry Division (ID) in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province, following claims of anomalies there made by an Army corporal.
The external audit was requested by the then division commander, Maj. Gen. Angelito de Leon, days before he retired.
“I was advised that they are sending an audit team as soon as possible,” De Leon told the Inquirer by phone.
De Leon made the request after an internal audit of the division’s financial records going back to October 2015 concluded that “transactions were in accordance with prescribed accounting and auditing regulations.”
Asked if the audit would include 2014 transactions, De Leon said: “I would assume yes.” That was the year when the supposed irregularities took place, according to the whistle-blower, Cpl. Melvin Alfonso.
De Leon earlier confirmed that Alfonso had been a member of the division’s service battalion until 2016, when the corporal asked to be transferred to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Alfonso went into hiding, claiming that the military had been hunting him down and had placed the houses of his relatives in Zamboanga City under surveillance.
It was not clear who was the division commander when Alfonso supposedly discovered the irregularities involving funds dubbed as return to sender (RTS).
RTS refers to portions of operational funds allocated to the 7th ID which were allegedly withdrawn and pocketed by senior officers.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.
The former Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., said his predecessor, Emmanuel Bautista, installed 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 got between P5,000 and P10,000, De Leon said, “None.”
Alfonso supposedly informed President Duterte about the supposed irregularities in the 7th ID in a letter in May 2017.
He claimed that for every RTS, staffers at the division’s management and fiscal office got between P5,000 and P10,000 from their superior officers.