No ‘ghost soldiers’ in AFP, says spokesman
MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday denied it has “ghost soldiers” in its ranks amid accusations its refusal to divulge personnel strength is a cover-up for the “missing” soldiers.
“For the record, we don’t have anything like that (ghost soldiers),” AFP spokesman Commodore Jose Miguel Rodriguez said in a press briefing.
Retired lieutenant colonel George Rabusa said that the AFP has been padding its actual troop strength by 20 percent through the years.
At Senate hearings on corruption in the military early this year, he said the Department of Budget and Management would release a fund for, say, 120,000 troops when the AFP actually had only 100,000. The salary for the 20,000 allegedly became the source of additional funds for military officials.
Rabusa, who served as military budget officer from 2000 to 2002, said the budget for the salaries of the ghost soldiers was the major source of the military’s slush fund.
Rodriguez said that the AFP has a little more than 120,000 troops employed. There are about 62,000 members of the paramilitary Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, he said.
“They are all there,” Rodriguez said.
He said the AFP would welcome any investigation by the Congress.
“What AFP is doing is we want to make sure we remove any opportunity for corruption. If that is identified as a source [of corruption] we will clean that up,” Rodriguez added.
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