Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5 Army chiefs have P1.6-billion unliquidated cash advances

5 Army chiefs have P1.6-billion unliquidated cash advances

Daily Tribune 09/25/2008

The Philippine Army leaderships have accumulated P1.6 billion in unliquidated cash advances from 2003 to 2007.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, citing reports from the Commission on Audit (CoA), yesterday said of the five Army chiefs, former Lt. Gen. Efren Abu, now special envoy to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), accumulated the bulk of the unliquidated cash advances with P997.44 million in 2003.

CoA also listed Lt. Gen. Generoso Senga, ambassador to Iran, as having P103.51 million in unliquidated cash advances in 2004.

In 2005, Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., now presidential adviser on the peace process, amassed P69.84 million in unliquidated cash advances.

In 2006, Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino was listed as having P90.07 million in unliquidated cash advances.

Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano still has to liquidate P335.64 million of his cash advances in 2007.

All in all, the total unliquidated cash advances run to around P1.6 billion.

The CoA rendered an adverse opinion on the fairness of presentation of the consolidated financial statements of the Philippine Army for each year due to unliquidated cash advances for payroll and travel of officials, among many others, Ocampo stressed.

It is actually a challenge to current Army chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado to clean up the infantry divisions (IDs) and brigades across the country which recorded unliquidated cash advances, inappropriate use of these advances and the non-distribution of combat clothing and individual equipment (CCIE) in some of the Army's biggest divisions, the militant lawmaker said.

In 2007, the non-distribution of CCIE in the 5th and 7th IDs alone amounted to P5.77 million.

There were also overpayments to Citizens Auxiliary Forces Geographic Unit active auxiliaries who were either already terminated (P1.95 million in the 5th, 7th and 8th IDs) with double entries of the same personnel or same serial numbers (P2.59 million in the 6th ID), Ocampo said.

This may be only the tip of the iceberg of AFP corruption. The House should consider inserting special provisions in the Army and AFP budgets, requiring them to accomplish these CoA recommendations.

Among CoA's recommendations to the Philippine Army are: strictly adhere to the CoA rules on the grant, utilization and liquidation of cash advances; and, impose penal/administrative sanctions to those who continue to neglect their obligation.

Apparently, the Army has ignored these recommendations. This unchecked bad practice of the Army affects the lower-rank and foot soldiers the most, he noted. Charlie V. Manalo

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