MANILA, Philippines?It?s Angelo Reyes.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV Tuesday took up the challenge of Reyes, a former defense secretary and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, to name the ?powerful? man allegedly behind ex-comptroller Carlos Garcia.
?I am naming him,? the senator told reporters on the same day Reyes issued the challenge in a letter published in newspapers.
Trillanes earlier alleged that Garcia was ready to name in 2009 other officials involved in military corruption. But he said the former comptroller decided to keep silent out of fear.
He also identified Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, another former comptroller, as ?one of the principals behind General Garcia.?
Asked if he has evidence, Trillanes referred to the testimony of former military budget officer George Rabusa, who alleged that Reyes had received around P150 million as retirement gift and a monthly take as chief of staff.
Trillanes said Reyes? involvement in military corruption was not limited to Rabusa?s account. ?We?re talking about billions,? he said.
The senator said he was still gathering evidence in connection with the Lamitan siege of 2001, wherein government troops allegedly allowed Abu Sayyaf kidnappers to escape.
He said he had received information that the incident was ?stage-managed.? But he declined to identify Reyes? specific liability in the bungled rescue operation.
Before Rabusa appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday, Trillanes said he already had information about Reyes? alleged involvement in military corruption based on ?documents.?
?The documents, they?re there,? he said. ?I came from the procurement system. I was a procurement officer and I (knew) where to look so it was just a matter of time (before I found out).?
Trillanes said he could not make the documents public during the Arroyo administration, citing ?blocks? such as an executive order that prevented Cabinet, police and military officials from appearing in congressional inquiries without a clearance from Malacańang.
The senator made no commitment to present his alleged evidence against Reyes in the coming Senate hearings. He said he would defer to fellow senators who initiated the investigation.
?We?re going to encourage as many witnesses as we can,? he said. ?The only way to complete the picture is for these people to come out in the open.?
Level playing field
In a statement late Tuesday, Reyes said:
?As a fellow officer and gentleman, I am now challenging Senator Trillanes to waive his parliamentary immunity to suits and then to repeat the same accusations he had made against my person, name and integrity.
?Better yet, if there is a shred of truth to what the senator is saying, I am asking him to rise to the occasion by filing the proper charges against me before any judicial body.?
Reyes said that he was asking Trillanes to ?fight in a level playing field instead of confederating with a lynch-mob to subject me and my family to a trial by publicity.?
In a five-page affidavit submitted late Tuesday to the Quezon City prosecutors office, Reyes also filed libel charges against Rabusa who alleged in a TV interview that he had given money to Reyes? wife Teresita and their children.
Reyes attached a transcript of the program, which contained Rabusa?s alleged libelous utterances during an interview with ANC television, calling these ?inherently malicious.?
He said the statements ?caused dishonor, defamation, embarrassment and public humiliation to complainant, his wife and even children? as the program was televised nationwide.?
In the interview aired from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday, Rabusa alleged that, on occasion, he would personally hand over to Reyes? wife allowances for local or overseas travel as instructed.
The amounts, according to Rabusa, would range from P2,000 to P200,000 for local travels. Overseas travel could sometimes mean an allowance of $1,000 to $2,000 per trip, Rabusa claimed.
Rabusa added that he would also arrange a ?boys night out? or ?special operations? allegedly for Reyes? children, for which he would pay P8,000.
The budget officer said he burned the fund receipts to erase the evidence.
PCDA abolished in 2005
Five of 11 chiefs of staff under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came out of retirement and went to Congress Tuesday to deny, practically in chorus, receiving slush funds as alleged by Rabusa.
Dionisio Santiago, Narciso Abaya, Generoso Senga, Hermogenes Esperon and Alexander Yano were accompanied by former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.
?I can categorically say there is no pabaon, no pasalubong,? said Esperon.
The incumbent military chief, Gen. Ricardo David, joined the generals in denying allegations that they received money from the annual P480-million fund known as the Provisions for Command-Directed Activities (PCDA).
David told the House committee hearing that the PCDA was stopped in 2005 and that the money had since been distributed to major services of the AFP.
?There?s no more PCDA now ... because of Republic Act No. 9182 which requires that we must have an annual procurement for the AFP,? David.
Abaya said the PCDA was scrapped during his stint as AFP chief. He said the funds were used supposedly to finance incentives for personnel, including burial expenses of troops in the field, as he admitted it was prone to abuse.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Esperon said the PCDA was abolished as a result of the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and as part of the recommendations of the Feliciano Commission that investigated the coup. With reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Cynthia D. Balana and TJ Burgonio