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How about an apology first, colonel?

By NEWSBREAK

Is he for real?

I’m not quite sure at this point, though his motivations should be obvious by now to any compassionate heart: he suffered a stroke and his wife is reportedly ill. He has nothing to lose, he said in an Inquirer interview, because he has already lost everything.

Ex-Army Lt. Col. George Rabusa has come out with damning accusations against his former military commanders and now threatens to link former President Arroyo to illegal use of military funds.

At a Senate hearing last Thursday, he singled out his longtime boss, former Armed Forces chief of staff retired Gen. Angelo Reyes, as a recipient of at least P50 million in pabaon when he retired in 2001.

Reyes and Rabusa go a long way. The latter served as Reyes’s budget officer when Reyes once headed J2, the office of the deputy chief of staff for intelligence. Their close ties allowed Rabusa to retain his work at the now-defunct J6 (comptrollership) while enrolled for advanced schooling at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Bonifacio about a decade ago. Reyes was chief of staff then.

Former Army Col. George Rabusa in yesterday's Senate hearing. (Photo: Albert Calvelo / PRIB)

In fact, an Army officer tells us that Rabusa visited Reyes shortly before he testified at the Senate, to tell his former boss that he was going to talk. Reyes reportedly told him, go ahead, according to this source in the know.

I’m willing to grant that Rabusa is singing because of a real change of heart.

We’ve all been here before: a personal crisis brings out the best in us. A sinner that turns around is a feel-good story that taps into the big heartedness of Filipinos.

I was hoping though that he’d say sorry first—before anything else.

I did not see signs of mea culpa in his Senate testimony. Instead, he told us that he and General Garcia were mere pawns in this sordid affair. That they were merely following orders.

Which is not entirely true.

Yes, the military is the most hierarchical organization in the world. This is out of necessity for they wield arms and fight wars.

Rabusa said in effect that he was doing everything within the chain of command. That the chore of counting dollar bills in vaults is similar to the burden of facing enemy fire.

In the heat of battle and at crunch time, the foot soldier relies on the chain of command for survival. He gets orders from commanders who presumably could see the battlefield more clearly than he does.

Rabusa said in effect that he was doing everything within the chain of command. That the chore of counting dollar bills in vaults is similar to the burden of facing enemy fire: if your commander orders you to take cover, take cover. Following this logic, if your commander orders you to steal, then steal.

What a grave insult to those sweating out against insurgents with little choice but to follow the chain.

The comptrollers would like us to believe that they had no choice. In truth, they not only made a choice, they enriched themselves and their families because of that choice.

The J6 was the most powerful unit in the Armed Forces.

It programmed, managed and disbursed military funds. Because creative budgeting took special skills and experience, the unit served as the principal adviser of the bosses when it came to money disbursement. The comptroller family was a power bloc by itself precisely because of their mastery of the craft.

Thus it became paramount to name a chief of staff who would have the will to change the power game and serve long enough to tweak the system that’s been there for the longest time. Rabusa said it well: they inherited an old practice.

But who among the chiefs of staff stayed long enough? And who was strong enough? None. Certainly not Reyes, who has long been associated with this comptroller bloc.

Former AFP chief of staff Gen. Efren Abu abolished the J6 because he had to clean up the mess. He assumed the post at the height of the Garcia scandal.

Its abolition did not diminish the corrupt culture that the J6 perpetuated for many decades.

For their use of taxpayers’ money to build their personal wealth, we deserve—at the very least—an apology from the comptrollers.

Beyond this, we deserve more than the current noise.

For what’s clear now is this: General Garcia is out on bail. Blaming their superiors for everything they have amassed, Colonel Rabusa and the comptrollers are asking us to catch the “big fish” instead. So now we are being led to other cases and other exposes.

In the meantime, the Ombudsman keeps on insisting that the plunder case against Garcia is weak.

Forgive me for my cynicism. Something is missing in this puzzle. Newsbreak, independent journalism from the Philippines

CATEGORY: Blogs, Defense & Security, Glenda M. Gloria
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  1. a bit of info about col rabusa, in 2005 one of their maid disappeared and allegedly was subject to physical torture.the maid was suspected as in cahoots with a dugo dugo gang that victimized the family of col rabusa. their relatives filed a writ of habeas corpus case against the col before rtc pasig but a day before the hearing the maid was set free to her relatives (from enrile cagayan)it is said A MISTAH assigned at the CIDG help the colonel.

  2. thanks for visiting the site. feel free to also email us at editorial@newsbreak.ph

  3. It is high time to objectively analyze deeper the primary root cause of graft and corruption in government and recommend measures to address this systemic problem rather than focus in condemning personalities through grandstanding in aid of re-election. Graft and corruption in the military is a reflection of the extent of corruption in our political system and moral degradation in our society brought about by the costly electoral process which technically corrupted all the existing systems in the government bureaucracy (executive, legislative, judicial) including the business and even the private sectors. Such costly electoral process allows personal, business or private spending by political candidates in running their electoral campaigns. Once elected in public office, these political leaders try to recover more than triple their campaign expenses thru commissions or kick backs and so called SOPs or ghost projects from their Pork Barrels, supplies and govt. infrastructure funds in connivance with their chosen contractors and suppliers. These graft and corrupt practices are endemic in the bureaucracy because our electoral system allows personal, private or business spending by politicians to get elected in public offices. Why should the system allow political candidates to spend their own or supporters money for them to occupy public offices and serve the people? It certainly defies logic and common sense which definitely requires systemic and comprehensive reforms. Such systemic flaw can be illustrated by citing a sample calculation. Say if there are 50 million registered voters nationwide, each national candidate is allowed by the Omnibus Election Code to spend 25 pesos per registered voter or total mind boggling amount of 1.25 BILLION PESOS. So candidates with more money will have the greater chance of sustaining and winning in an election. Is this the kind of democracy that the Filipinos want? It is plain and simple money politics or political business. No wonder why the politicians become richer while the poor become poorer. Politicians and their business supporters technically corner all government projects in a fraudulent and simulated biddings to enrich themselves while majority of the Filipino people live in abject poverty. Since this costly electoral process has produced our political leaders from the President, Senators, Congressmen, governors, mayors down to the barangay councilors, it follows that the system of recovering campaign expenses resulted in the estimated 20% government losses in our annual budget based on the World Bank studies or estimated 200 billion pesos in annual losses out of 1-Trillion pesos annual budget. If we can afford to lose 200 billion pesos thru graft, can we not afford to spend just 10% of such losses or 20 billion pesos to shoulder the cost of election to remove the primary cause or justification in committing graft by politicians and their minions?

    How is then the military corruption connected with the defective electoral process when military officials are not elected into office? While military officials are not elected, they are being used as instruments by politicians who insert “pork barrel “ allocations into the budgets of the AFP-DND, DPWH and other Departments. But these congressional insertions can not be spent by the DND-AFP or various Departments without the clearance of the concerned senators or congressmen earmarked for the pork barrels usually awarded to chosen suppliers and contractors whom they generate kick backs or commissions. In other instances, senators and congressmen who approve the budget of the DND-AFP or other departments also demand money from the DND-AFP or different departments during budget hearings as fund generation schemes in preparation for the next electoral exercise as dole outs to supporters, pay costly TV Ads, etc. or to recover expenses from their past electoral campaigns. So that explains the real cause of corruption which is anchored on a costly electoral process that has domino effect in contaminating all the govt. bureaucracy since these political leaders become our national and local executives, policy makers and lawmakers who have the powers over budget allocation and disbursements. So the AFP or other government agencies were just contaminated by the defects in the system brought about by the costly electoral process. In short, the case of General Garcia is just the drop in a bucket or tip of the ice berg. Other adverse effects of the costly electoral process are the rampant criminal activities which are usually perpetrated by losing political candidates and their followers who resort to criminal activities to recover their campaign expenses. But the worst cases can be illustrated by the drug lords, gambling lords and criminal syndicate leaders who can afford to spend easy money to get elected into office and become our national or local executives. So that explains the proliferation of criminal activities after any electoral exercise.

    How can we start meaningful reforms instead of blaming each other or grandstanding just to become popular while taking advantage of free multi-media coverage in preparation for future elections? First, we must start reforming ourselves by becoming morally upright persons whom our children and next generation of Filipinos can be proud of. Then we must contribute our share in addressing the root cause of graft and corruption in government by implementing electoral reforms to be able to select the best leaders we deserve and MAKE ELECTION REALLY FREE AND DEMOCRATIC in accordance with the vision and real meaning of “ TRUE DEMOCRACY. Legislative amendment must be done in the flawed Omnibus Election Code which allows political candidates in spending private or personal money for their electoral campaigns. Since our political candidates are running for public office, it must be the government through the COMELEC that must shoulder the cost of election TO ADDRESS THE PRIMARY ROOT CAUSE OF GRAFT AND CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT . If the candidates have not spent their personal or supporters money, they have no reasons to steal from the government coffers through technical malversation or conversion. We can then start affirming our rights to good governance and upgrade our level of maturity to promote the common good and national interest rather than our personal or family interests. We can advocate reforms by informing our legislators to institute electoral reforms by amending the Omnibus Election Code to ban private, personal or business money in financing political campaigns. Reforms must level the playing field and allow the best qualified incorruptible public servants to govern us instead of just the moneyed people who buy votes or who hire goons to terrorize the electorates. We must amend the constitution to require political candidates become truly qualified in terms of good moral character, educational attainment, no criminal records like the requirements for civil servants and no conflicts of interest in terms of official functions and business interests. Political leaders and govt. officials must be contented with what they deserve to receive in terms of regular pay and allowances and shun away from money or bonuses from illegal sources whether kick backs or gambling, drugs, etc. We should return the death penalty for those criminals who are convicted of plunder or graft and corruption to get rid of those menace of society. And most of all is to promote “LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE” from the top to the lowest levels in government, business, church and private sectors. If top government officials from the President, senators, governors, mayors, military and police chiefs and judiciary including the leaders of businesses, NGO’s and churches serve as good examples of moral uprightness and transparent leadership, the whole govt. bureaucracy, corporate personnel and citizenry will follow and become aware of their responsibilities to promote transparency, improve the level of good governance where proper utilization of taxpayers money and other resources will be optimized and graft and corrupt practices shall be eliminated. This will also enable those in power and authority (Executive and judiciary) the moral ascendancy and political will to prosecute the grafters and plunderers. The primary reason why we do not have the political will to prosecute grafters in government because every politician knows that he is as guilty as the grafter who insist on depriving the Filipino people with the much needed resources for their selfish interests. And we owe these comprehensive reforms not just for the present but for the next Filipino generations to inherit and experience the benefits of our sacrifices towards a real democratic and developing country as our beloved Philippines. Our politicians and our fellow countrymen must realize that it is still better to reform and strengthen our democratic system than allow the left or right to justify their violent struggle to grab power.

  4. Glenda,

    I agree that he should apologize as well. But, I feel very happy that at least he did not wash his own hands and he also admitted that he benefited from the pabaon. Maybe it is just not nature of Pinoys to apologize but rather having the act, in this case, exposing what he knows, as the apology in action, not through words.

    Arvin

  5. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is a noble institution, manned mostly by courageous and honorable men who are governed by rules and regulations and the laws of the land. Nonetheless, there are several personnel who violate the laws and regulations with impunity like Ret. Lt Col Rabusa, et al in their selfish interest to enrich themselves as they buy their way up the ladder in the AFP.
    Ret Lt Col Rabusa or now Mr. Rabusa is an over ambitious man who desperately wished to become a general someday through his sinister style of corrupting his superiors that gave him the leeway to ingratiate himself and generate kickbacks. So he targeted the comptrollership to get acces to the AFP budget.
    But Mr. Rabusa miserably failed in his grand ambition since his classmates now are generals while he is a retired Lt Col with pending graft cases and presently he is financially broke. So he wants to be on the limelight to get even while dragging his former superiors down the drain and going berserk in his desperate attempt to get exonerated from his criminal offenses.
    By his well known style, Mr. Rabusa name-drops superiors to influence or intimidate his colleagues, subordinates and even senior officers to be able to partake larger chunks in the AFP budget which he dipped his fingers to get more funds for himself and his corrupt ways of buying his way up.
    Perhaps, he was the only budget officer who amassed so much wealth illegally in the entire history of the AFP and he is dragging the whole institution as if it was really part of the AFP tradition. It must be emphasized that Mr Rabusa and Mr Garcia personally committed on their own volition such criminal acts and infraction of military regulations at the expense of the AFP.
    The offended party is the AFP and 99.99% of the dedicated AFP personnel whose reputations were tarnished by Mr. Rabussa’s illegal acts.
    Mr. Rabusa on his own admission abused his functions and deprived the AFP of the much needed resources for his personal benefits. Assuming that what he did was an order from his immediate superior, he is still criminally liable for following an illegal order. Mr. Rabusa pledged to follow only legal orders not illegal orders. So he violated regulations and his oath of office.
    Mr Rabusa and even the whole former comptroller family do not represent even less than one (1) percent of the whole AFP strength of 135,000 loyal, hardworking and honorable personnel who depend solely on their hard earned salaries and loans for a living. But now Mr. Rabusa is dragging the image of the whole AFP for his criminal indiscretions as if the AFP benefited from him.
    That is why when Gen Abu took over as CSAFP, he abolished the office of comptrollership where Mr. Rabusa belongs and criminal charges were filed against him for his illegal acts.
    By the stroke of fate, MGen Garcia and Mr. Rabusa were caught with their pants down and slapped with graft and plunder charges.
    Now, Mr. Rabusa is holding the government and the AFP hostage in his desperate desire to get exonerated from these criminal charges by offering to become a state witness on condition that criminal charges against him will be dropped and closed.
    Whether he is lying to save his neck, telling the truth or just being used as a willing tool to perform a scripted scenario with half truths to gain free media and political mileage, it should not be a justification to exonerate Mr. Rabusa, Mr Garcia and their cohorts.
    By his own admission, Mr. Rabusa is criminally liable and should not be exonerated from the graft charges. Mr. Rabusa’s testimonies can still be used including other corroborating evidences and testimonies of others like the COA auditors to prosecute his conspirators in the fund scam.
    The AFP must continue to strengthen its internal control system to prevent unscrupulous personnel like Mr. Rabusa from abusing and taking advantage of the resources for their personal benefits. Despite the distractions due to individual indiscretions that violate AFP regulations, the AFP will continue to remain as a noble institution that is true to its mission to defend our country and the Filipino people against all treat groups.

  6. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is a noble institution, manned mostly by courageous and honorable men who are governed by rules and regulations and the laws of the land. Nonetheless, there are several personnel who violate the laws and regulations with impunity like Ret. Lt Col Rabusa, et al in their selfish interest to enrich themselves as they buy their way up the ladder in the AFP.
    Ret Lt Col Rabusa or now Mr. Rabusa is an over ambitious man who desperately wished to become a general someday through his sinister style of corrupting his superiors that gave him the leeway to ingratiate himself and generate kickbacks. So he targeted the comptrollership to get acces to the AFP budget.
    But Mr. Rabusa miserably failed in his grand ambition since his classmates now are generals while he is a retired Lt Col with pending graft cases and presently he is financially broke. So he wants to be on the limelight to get even while dragging his former superiors down the drain and going berserk in his desperate attempt to get exonerated from his criminal offenses.
    By his well known style, Mr. Rabusa name-drops superiors to influence or intimidate his colleagues, subordinates and even senior officers to be able to partake larger chunks in the AFP budget which he dipped his fingers to get more funds for himself and his corrupt ways of buying his way up.
    Perhaps, he was the only budget officer who amassed so much wealth illegally in the entire history of the AFP and he is dragging the whole institution as if it was really part of the AFP tradition. It must be emphasized that Mr Rabusa and Mr Garcia personally committed on their own volition such criminal acts and infraction of military regulations at the expense of the AFP.
    The offended party is the AFP and 99.99% of the dedicated AFP personnel whose reputations were tarnished by Mr. Rabussa’s illegal acts.
    Mr. Rabusa on his own admission abused his functions and deprived the AFP of the much needed resources for his personal benefits. Assuming that what he did was an order from his immediate superior, he is still criminally liable for following an illegal order. Mr. Rabusa pledged to follow only legal orders not illegal orders. So he violated regulations and his oath of office.
    Mr Rabusa and even the whole former comptroller family do not represent even less than one (1) percent of the whole AFP strength of 135,000 loyal, hardworking and honorable personnel who depend solely on their hard earned salaries and loans for a living. But now Mr. Rabusa is dragging the image of the whole AFP for his criminal indiscretions as if the AFP benefited from him.
    That is why when Gen Abu took over as CSAFP, he abolished the office of comptrollership where Mr. Rabusa belongs and criminal charges were filed against him for his illegal acts.
    By the stroke of fate, MGen Garcia and Mr. Rabusa were caught with their pants down and slapped with graft and plunder charges.
    Now, Mr. Rabusa is holding the government and the AFP hostage in his desperate desire to get exonerated from these criminal charges by offering to become a state witness on condition that criminal charges against him will be dropped and closed.
    Whether he is lying to save his neck, telling the truth or just being used as a willing tool to perform a scripted scenario with half truths to gain free media and political mileage, it should not be a justification to exonerate Mr. Rabusa, Mr Garcia and their cohorts.
    By his own admission, Mr. Rabusa is criminally liable and should not be exonerated from the graft charges. Mr. Rabusa’s testimonies can still be used including other corroborating evidences and testimonies of others like the COA auditors to prosecute his conspirators in the fund scam.
    The AFP must continue to strengthen its internal control system to prevent unscrupulous personnel like Mr. Rabusa from abusing and taking advantage of the resources for their personal benefits. Despite the distractions due to individual indiscretions that violate AFP regulations, the AFP will continue to remain as a noble institution that is true to its mission to defend our country and the Filipino people against all treat groups.

  7. disgruntled bystander says:

    rabusa should apologize and more. what if he didn’t lose the election, get bankrupt, his wife didn’t end up having cancer and he didn’t have a stroke? the only reason why he is ratting on his graft buddies is because he’s afraid of more karma hitting his shitty excuse for a life. i would only believe this bastard if he agrees not to be exmpted from any criminal proceedings. he admittied to doing the crime so he should also do the time, i think this is the only way he can make things right.

  8. Are there any laws that address these irregularities like a National anti-Kickback law enacted by Congress to address these concerns on corruption? i.e. in the USA, Congress included a provision in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (OBRA 1989) which barred self-referrals for clinical laboratory services under the Medicare program, effective January 1, 1992. This provision is known as “Stark I”. The law included a series of exceptions to the ban in order to accommodate legitimate business arrangements. A number of observers recommended extending the ban to other services and programs. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA 1993) expanded the restriction to a range of additional health services and applied it to both Medicare and Medicaid; this legislation, known as “Stark II,” also contained clarifications and modifications to the exceptions in the original law. Minor technical corrections to these provisions were included in the Social Security Amendments of 1994.
    Passage of Stark II raised a series of concerns on the part of many provider groups. While Stark I and II were intended to remove potential conflicts of interest from physician decision making, a number of persons have argued that the legislation, particularly parts of Stark II, represents an unwarranted intrusion into the practice of medicine. They have stated that the legislation, particularly the provisions relating to compensation arrangements, is too complex and may, in fact, impede physicians’ ability to participate in managed care networks.
    On November 20, 1995, Congress gave final approval to the conference report on the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1995. President Clinton vetoed the measure on December 6, 1995. BBA included several amendments to the physician self-referral provisions. The two major changes were the repeal of the prohibitions based on compensation arrangements and the reduction in the list of services subject to the ban.
    The Federal Register announced that publication of Stark III has been extended until March 26, 2008, and Phase II will remain in effect through that date.
    The Phase III final rule was published on September 5, 2007, at 72 FR 51012, and became effective December 4, 2007.
    The Stark Law is related to, but not the same as, the federal anti-kickback law.

  9. disgruntled bystander says:

    o di yun na nga! rabusa was in csb yesterday and he was asked by one of the students if he’d be willing to be incarcerated just like garcia while the investigation is on-going. rabusa replied, “bakit naman ninyo ako isasama dyan, ako na nga ang nagexpose sa lahat ng mga nagnanakaw sa AFP”. No remorse! No humility whatsoever, if he unsderstood the gravity of what he did, he’d be willing to be jailed. being a tattletale doesn’t stop the bad karma in your life ratbusa, it’s paying for your sins.

  10. thank you, everyone, for all your helpful feedback.
    this case continues to unravel. and we will try our very best to put things in context for you.
    lets keep this conversation going.

  11. I would like to think that Rabusa had a metanoia – a complete change of heart and mind – which motivated him to speak the truth. With all the risk he took in exposing the participation of people, even himself, in the corruption in AFP, it cannot just come out of his bravery and nagging conscience. God’s grace surely must have been a big factor. In exposing the truth, he made a lot of enemies, particularly those who believe they are now protected by Reyes’ “supreme sacrifice” (according to Ligot) of personally ending his own life. Now, his whole life and his family are natural targets of character assassination and death threats. I pray that he will continue to speak the truth, in spite of odds against him. I consider that true heroism, and suicide a rejection of God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness.

  12. Lydia M, if you knew Rabusa before, you’d kow that there is mo character assasination. He is a despicable character, from the very start. People who know him are just telling the truth. Metanoia? Metapera. He should be charged and serve time in jail for what he has done. By stealing money meant for soldiers, and not releasing it to be used in the field, it is he who s responsible for the deaths of all the soldiers who died in the fields. Do not be too quick in calling him a hero.

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