PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has ordered the relief of “around 20” officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center including its top officials, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said on Monday, Aug. 13.
Court martial proceedings have also been directed against Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega and Col. Antonio Punzalan, the head this health service command of the AFP, also named V. Luna General Hospital.
“It was brought to the President’s attention that alleged corruption activities have been taking place at the V. Luna Medical Center. The President has since read the reports of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Chief of Staff, General Carlito G. Galvez Jr.,” Mr. Roque said in his press briefing Monday morning.
He added that “several high ranking officials and employees of V. Luna Medical Center…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.”
As to how this alleged corruption was uncovered, Mr. Roque said there was a whistleblower. “And of course, the whistleblower went to the proper channels that did the investigation. The President ordered the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission to investigate, and he also ordered the Chief of Staff to look into the matter.”
The spokesman added that Mr. Duterte went “ballistic, because only recently he ordered that the sum of (P)50 million a month be released to V. Luna to make sure that it will have sufficient funds to cover all the medical requirements of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. And of course, only to find out that bulk of the funds or much of the funds may be going to pockets of corrupt officials of the Armed Forces.”
Mr. Galvez said in a televised press briefing that his office “conducted a discreet probe” on a complaint filed at the Office of the President.
He added that “initial findings showed there was no transparency, no check and balance” in the said questionable “17 transactions.”
The AFP chief said his office will seek the assistance of the Office of the Ombudsman to build a strong case against those relieved. — Arjay L. Balinbin