Sacked  military officials at V. Luna Hospital allegedly involved in P17-M anomalous deals

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DAVAO CITY (August 14) — The two military officials and 18 other officials of V. Luna General Hospital were reportedly involved  in  questionable deals worth  P17-million, said  Armed Forces chief of staff General Carlito Galvez Monday.

President Rodrigo Duterte fired more than 20 officials including Commander of the AFP Health Service Command (AFPHSC) Brigadier General Edwin Leo Torrelavega, and Commander of the V. Luna Medical Center Colonel Antonio Punzalan, Chiefs of Management and Fiscal Office (MFO) and the Logistics  Office (OH4) of the AFPHSC.

Galvez said the “Based on the reports, several high-ranking officials and employees of the V. Luna Medical Center, Health Service Command [AFP] undertook anomalous purchases of equipment and engaged in fraudulent transactions, including ghost-purchasing, splitting of contracts to circumvent mandatory bidding processes, and conceiving fictitious suppliers.”

This, as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement said  “It is unfortunate that this happened at a time when the DND and AFP enjoys the trust and confidence of the Filipino people. We will ensure that those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.-Malacañang File Photo

“The investigations of the other individuals who might possibly be involved are still on-going,” he added.

The Discovery

Galvez revealed the relief of the AFP officials was a result of an internal investigation which was initiated by the Defense and military establishments.

Presidential Spokesperson harry Roque earlier said the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and the AFP conducted an investigation, the result was submitted to the  President,  which resulted to the firing of the officials.

With the discovery of the anomalies, Lorenzana in a statement said “We assure the public that the DND and AFP are sensitive to irregularities such as these and vow to continue safeguarding our institution against similar incidents in the future.

ALSO READ: /duterte-sacks-20-military-officials-over-corruption-at-v-luna-general-hospital/

Institutional corruption

Roque said “That’s what angers the President. This is not an isolated transaction. It involves quite a number of anomalous transactions. Apparently it’s a conspiracy,” Roque said, condemning what he described as an “institutional corruption.”

“He was personally aggravated when the information on corruption in V. Luna was confirmed… He is ballistic. Because only recently, he has ordered the sum of P50 million a month be released
to V. Luna… only to find out that much of the funds may be going to pockets of corrupt officials of the Armed Forces,” he added.

Earlier on, Duterte rehabilitated the hospital and even put up a P50-million monthly grant to provide for the Center to cover all medical requirements of members of the AFP.

AFP Chief of staff Carlito Galve (Photo courtesy AFP)

Court martial

Duterte also ordered to subject Torrelavega and Punzalan to court martial proceedings.

This means the case will be tried under the military justice system and the accused will be proceeded against in court martial proceedings where they will be given the opportunity to be heard.

Galvez said these personnel will be charged with violation of Article of War 95 (Fraud Against the Government), but he stressed this is without prejudice to other infractions of the Articles of War that may have also been violated; and the accused military personnel’s right to due process.

“As the AFP chief-of-staff and like our Commander-in Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, I am both saddened and offended by this report. I am not prejudging the named Officers and Enlisted Personnel as the would-be recommendations of the courts martial will be submitted to me for approval and further submission to the Commander-in-Chief for final approval,” he added.

“But I commit to the members of the AFP, to the Filipino People, and to our beloved President and Commander-in-Chief that I will render justice to all concerned without undue haste. As the President said during the last SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address) corruption is corrosive. And the warning that— ‘I will get you!’ And I am one with him in that desire. At ito na yun,” Galvez said.

Reforms

Galvez said he will order that reforms be instituted in the AFPHSC along with a major revamp in that unit to address the systemic corruption.

“I will cause the installation only of officers and staff with the necessary qualifications, competencies, integrity, and unquestionable reputation, to run this institution which is vital to the health and well-being of our personnel and their dependents,” Galvez emphasized.

An army personnel who requested anonymity,  however,  said  “Kawawa ang mga low ranking pag-naconfine dyan sa V. Luna,  pinagsisigawan kami at parang hindi kami sundalo sa tingin nila, parang wala kaming karapatan na mag request ng medicines.  Pero compared noon, mas better na kasi ang serbisyo ngayon, kaya lang nakakahiya yong corruption dyan sa loob.”-Editha Z. Caduaya/NewsLine.ph

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