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Ombudsman suspends


AFP planning chief in graft case A Philippine general was suspended for alleged graft on Monday in the first such case involving a high-ranking army official in recent years.

Major General Carlos Garcia, chief of the armed forces’ plans and programs division, had allegedly misdeclared his statements of assets and liabilities and “his increase in net worth is disproportionate to his legitimate income,” the military said in a statement.

President Arroyo, meanwhile, ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to investigate other graft cases in the military.

His suspension for six months without pay was recommended by the government Ombudsman which said that Garcia committed “dishonesty, gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service,” a military statement said.

It added that Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Narciso Abaya had also received a report early this year alleging that one of Garcia’s sons was held at a US airport for failing to declare some 100,000 dollars he was carrying.

An investigation found insufficient evidence to charge Garcia but an Ombudsman probe then found cause to suspend the general, who now has 10 days to answer the charges.

The Ombudsman would then determine if there is probable cause to charge him in a special anti-graft court.

Armed forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said that Garcia’s suspension was the first for a general “in contemporary times.”

The Philippine armed forces has been mired in allegations of graft and corruption that has often been the cause of instability within the institution.

In 2003, a group of junior officers led around 300 men in a short-lived mutiny against President Gloria Arroyo, whom they accused of graft, and demanded the firing of top military officials.

They had accused their senior officers of corruption and of allegedly enriching themselves while enlisted men died fighting insurgents without proper equipment.
— AFP with Karl Kaufman

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