How about an apology first, colonel?
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.
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.
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.
TAGS: Angelo Reyes, Carlos Garcia, Lt. Col. George Rabusa