Duterte: Send convicted ex-PMA official to ‘hell’
The latest military officer dismissed from the service by President Rodrigo Duterte had already been convicted by general court martial for misusing P15 million in Philippine Military Academy (PMA) funds.
But the July 12 conviction of Lt. Col. Hector Maraña, treasurer of the cadet corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CCAFP) at the PMA in Baguio City needed the final approval of the President, AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said on Wednesday at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo.
“Send the guy to hell. That’s an order,” the President said on Tuesday night in his speech to business leaders and entrepreneurs in Malacañang.
The President approved the recommended prison term of six to 12 years for Maraña, who was charged with fraud, conduct unbecoming of an officer and conduct prejudicial to good order.
The President dismissed Maraña a day after Malacañang announced that two top military officials would be court martialed for a P1.4-million corruption scandal at the AFP Medical Center (AFPMC), also known as V. Luna Medical Center.
“Create a court where he will appear and speak, and give him the most humiliating fire,” the President said, referring to AFP Health Service Command chief Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega who, along with AFPMC commanding officer Col. Antonio Punzalan and 20 others, was relieved from his post for alleged corruption.
Arevalo said Maraña, who underwent court martial proceedings for violating Articles of War 95, 96 and 97, was CCAFP treasurer from December 2006 to December 2012 before being reassigned to Army headquarters.
Maraña left his PMA post “without the proper turnover of financial and property accountabilities,” and failed to liquidate and turn over the funds to his successor, Arevalo added.
An internal audit on April 11, 2013 revealed that over P15 million in CCAFP funds were missing. An investigation showed that “[Maraña] had lent [the money] to different private individuals.”
Maraña was charged and arraigned on June 5, 2014, and was later meted out a prison term. Apart from forfeiting all his benefits, he was also separated from the service and fined the equivalent of the amount that he had malversed.
Arevalo said the two incidents at the PMA and the AFPMC were “isolated and do not reflect the [conduct of the] vast majority of our commanders and officers in the AFP.”
AFP chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said the alleged irregularities at the AFPMC “really broke my heart” since the medical facility is one of the military’s premier institutions.
Galvez also responded to criticism over the P1.4 million alleged irregular transaction, and said that the AFP would act on any complaint “no matter how small the amount involved.”
Any instance of corruption, he said, has a “debilitating and corrosive influence that will tarnish even the strongest organizations.” —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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