General who witnessed poll fraud disheartened over ‘pork scam’
MANILA, Philippines – A Marine general, who once claimed to have witnessed the rigging of the 2004 presidential elections by allies of former President Gloria Arroyo in Lanao, expressed on social media his disappointments over the unraveling controversy on the misuse of state funds.
Brigadier General Alexander Balutan, chief of 1st Marine Brigade based in Sultan Kudarat, said the news on corruption of public funds was “disheartening.”
[“Ako’y lubos na nanglulumo kapag naaalala ko ang madugong digmaan noung 2000 sa Central Mindanao na kung saan 175 nalang na marino ang natira sa pinangungunahan kong batalyon pagkatapos ng huling bakbakan sa Camp Abubakar. Ito ay matapos namin kubkubin ang tatlong malalaking kampo ng MILF sa mahigit na 3 buwan pakikipagsagupaan sa 3 probinsya (LDN,LDS at Maguindanao). Sa araw-araw ay nakikipagtitigan kami kay kamatayan, marami sa amin ang nagbuwis ng buhay at nasugatan sa taimtim na pagtupad sa sinumpaang tungkulin para ipaagtanggol ang inang bayan. Now that the P10 billion PDAF is unearthed that should have been used to solve the lingering social issues leading to armed conflict, the deaths of these marine heroes are rendered useless.. NAKAPANGLULUMO.”]
“I am very much disheartened whenever I remember the military offensive in year 2000 in Central Mindanao where only 175 Marines were left in my battalion after the fighting at Camp Abubakar. It was after we overran three camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in over three months in three provinces [Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao,” he posted in his Facebook account dated August 20.
Balutan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, said the loss of lives of soldiers suddenly turned useless, as the funds misused could have been used to address the problems of armed conflict.
“In each day that death stares us in the eye, many of us sacrificed our lives and were wounded in battle to uphold our sworn duty to defend our country.”
“Now that the P10 billion PDAF [priority development assistance fund] is unearthed, that [money] should have been used to solve the lingering social issues [that caused] to armed conflict. The deaths of these Marine heroes are rendered useless. DISHEARTENING,” he said.
In the comments he earned from his Facebook post, he stated that government forces take the brunt of oppressed people’s frustrations.
“We are fighting a war in the countrysides that these corrupt [government] officials have created against desperate, oppressed people who see no possibility of improving their lot. They use the lingering social inequity/issues as convenient excuse and justification to rebel against the [government] and the AFP/PNP takes the brunt of the people’s frustrations. Now, who is the real enemy of the state,” he posted.
One of the responders to the post challenged him on Facebook and said: “Tell me then what can we do? Or are you just voicing out your frustration?”
“I don’t know your background, but as a peace loving and well meaning Filipino, you can do a lot in addressing/supporting a wide range of issues affecting our countrymen depending on your own competency. But, I don’t agree on resorting to a bloody revolution. Anyway you can Google search my name to better know/understand me. Thanks,” Balutan responded.
Most of the commenters, however, gave the Marine officer their support, to which Balutan was thankful for.
[“Maraming Salamat sa lahat ng reaksyon nyo. May pag asa ang ating bayan kung tayong lahat ay sama sama tungo sa isang mapayapa, may dignidad at masaganang bukas.”]
“Thank you very much for your reactions. Our nation has hope if we all unite to achieve a peaceful, dignified, bountiful future,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, his online post garnered 379 likes and 139 shares from Facebook users.
Balutan was also awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers by Metrobank Foundation in 2011. He was recognized for leading successful campaigns against Muslim separatist rebels and for forging a peace pact among 18 mayors in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City before the 2004 elections.
He testified before the Senate in 2005 for his knowledge on the alleged cheating during the 2004 elections despite orders from then commander-in-chief Arroyo not to attend the inquiry.
He was court-martialed for his defiance but the charges were proscribed or had lapsed after a period of two years before he was brought to trial.
Former soldiers and cadets from the Philippine Military Academy issued a manifesto over their “disgust” on the alleged misuse of PDAF known as pork barrel.
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