To solve the worsening budgetary deficits that push our country deeper into economic collapse and social misery, President Arroyo should aim for bulls’ eye action instead of carrying on a press-release advocacy.
By admitting that corruption in the bureaucracy and administrative inefficiency in the collection of taxes are the two big holes in the fiscal bucket, Mrs. Arroyo would have no other recourse but to plug them. This would require swinging the presidential axe wider on dishonest functionaries like graft suspect Army Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.
She should not disturb or prevent the Ombudsman from prosecutorial action to keep her credibility intact in selling policy reforms toward a strong republic. Any hint that the Palace would have the final say on whether Garcia would undergo court-martial proceedings would be seen as a move either to sidetrack the ongoing investigation or exonerate him from charges a regular court could better determine.
What Garcia has allegedly perpetrated is massive corruption with strong evidentiary details. By suspending him from his job, the Ombudsman must have an airtight case against the top finance officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Instead of being shipped to a military sala, Garcia should be tried in a graft court.
Bringing Garcia to the AFP turf—to ferret out the truth toward retribution as suggested in a published Palace statement Tuesday—would blur the renewed antigraft campaign of Mrs. Arroyo. Court-martial proceedings could be viewed as a smokescreen for the probe being carried out by the Ombudsman.
Court-martial proceedings may also be seen as a move to prevent more black beans from spilling. If the military court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the accused, the judicial examination on Garcia could be restrained from expanding the culpability to higher AFP echelons amid possible incriminating evidence of conspiracy.
With the suspension of Garcia, the Ombudsman could pursue the angle of collusion in the multimillion-peso military logistics roguery, described by insiders as bold and vicious under five AFP commanding generals. They should be impleaded as accessory-after-the-fact based on upward paper trail of the anomalous transactions involving ghost deliveries.
A military court taking over the corruption case with jurisdictional infirmity could generate negative speculations. A quashal would give rise to social ferment, with a sad view that the Palace was helpless in protecting the rights of Filipino taxpayers against corruption in the AFP.
As the Palace tries to entertain a court-martial fallback for Garcia, the accusation by the Magdaló rebels against corruption in the AFP becomes more tenable. But not until these inconsistent young officers turned up with a foolish stunt of apologizing for having staged last year’s Oakwood mutiny to express their gripe against massive irregularities in the establishment.
The Magdaló turnaround should not weaken the corruption case against Garcia, nay, prevent Mrs. Arroyo from chopping his head. If court martial is necessary, it should not stop the graft court from judicially determining the case as basis for military sanction.
FASTLANE: A trio of a military general-turned Cabinet member and two other Palace functionaries reassigned to new posts are reportedly selling a prime property contiguous upscale Forbes Park to their ilk, a land developer. The underhanded transaction, according to the leader of the occupants (mostly navy enlisted men), involved the issuance of a questionable executive order on top of harassing them so that they would be forced to abandon their land possession affirmed by a judicial order.
And comes now Greggy Araneta asking the Sandiganbayan to penalize the Philippine National Bank for allegedly dipping into the frozen P55-million deposit of the Pantranco North Express Inc. It appears that PNB touched the account despite a freeze order issued by the Presidential Commission on Good Government with custodial duty on the alleged hidden wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his father-in-law.
Greggy’s plaint has a flipside of bigger bank deposit controversy involving billions of pesos tightly kept by two Chinese-controlled banks that separately control the accounts as theirs. These are the KKK and Masagana 99 accounts that informally pump-primed the Martial Law economy. While the details are interesting in the face of fiscal crisis, the manner by which the chairmen control their respective banks through these huge accounts is enviable more than disturbing.
Don’t worry, says antigraft lawyer Guillermo Pecache who is a retired military general and a top business executive. He leads four crusading organizations in launching a bloodless revolt against graft and corruption. His immediate effort is to flush out all unexplained wealth and send corrupt government leaders and bureaucrats to jail.