Friday, February 4, 2011
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 4, 2011-Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, revealed yesterday that a total of P128 million military funds were missing and that the amount could still be in the hands of a former military comptroller accused of plundering funds from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
That’s the Senator disclosure when the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) admitted that the money were withdrawn by retired General Carlos Garcia in 2004 for four (4) days even before the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a freeze order on the bank accounts of Garcia and his family.
Drilon told a Senate hearing on the controversial plea bargaining agreement entered into by Garcia and state prosecutors that it is clear that the amount being restituted of P135 or so million, clearly, is grossly insufficient if you consider the fact that prior to the freezing of the accounts, P128 million were withdrawn from these accounts and at this point could no longer be traced.
From October 5 to 8 prior to the issuance of the freeze order by the court, Vicente Aquino, executive director of AMLC, said the funds were in fact withdrawn by Garcia, his wife Clarita and their children.
Drilon added that certainly, we presume and conclude that it is in the possession of General Garcia.
Garcia refused to answer and invoked his right against self-incrimination when pressed by Drilon regarding the missing funds and Drilon exposed an apparent irregularity with the way the plea bargaining agreement was arrived at, with state prosecutors admitting that the condition of returning the missing P128 million was not complied with by Garcia before agreeing into the plea bargain deal.
Aquino’s AMLC said that they have forwarded to the Ombudsman bank records indicating that hundreds of millions of military funds were withdrawn by Garcia, but state prosecutors cannot say why the amount was not included in the plea bargain even though the evidence was presented to them.
Drilon stated that based on the bank records, a total of P128 million was withdrawn and was never returned to the national coffers and that the plea bargain was entered into even without this P128 million. (Jason de Asis)
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